New Plymouth’s Spotswood College continued a proud tradition by claiming two of the four Division 1 titles up for grabs at last weekend’s NZSS Beach Volleyball Championships at Mount Maunganui.
The Junior Division 1 boys title was won by Spotswood pair Keegan Joe and Mel Naborisi, who beat Tauranga Boys’ College pair Quaid Forbes and Jack McManaway in their final.
Libby Houghton (year 12) and Hikaru Han (year 13) won the Senior Girls Division 1, defeating Katie Sadlier and Zara Pocock of Westlake Girls’ High School in their final.
Additionally, David Jeffrey and Jonah Nabrosi were pipped for bronze in the Senior Boys Division 1 section.
Speaking with College Sport Media, Libby Houghton was proud of Spotswood College’s achievements on the sand on the national stage. “We all train hard together just about every day, so it was great to do so well,” Libby said.
Libby and partner Hikaru had only played a couple of tournaments together prior to this one, but they were confident of doing well, as Libby explained:
“The weekend before at the New Zealand age-grade championships we won the bronze medal and our semi-final there could’ve gone either way, so our goal was definitely to get gold at the NZSS tournament. We knew our competition really well because throughout the summer we had been with different partners all around New Zealand playing in the pro tour.
“So we had ideas of their strengths and weaknesses going up there, and our coach Anthony Joe is the New Zealand U19 and U21 coach and he helped us a lot. We wanted to go up and kick everyone’s butts really!”
Libby talked about the post-section matches on Sunday.
They had a 2-0 quarter-final victory over the Orewa College pair of Brianna Morrison and Jesse Te Rito (21-13, 21-14).
Their semi-final was tight, Libby and Hikarau defeating Rangitoto College’s Jasmine Milton and Haley Flatz 2-1 (18-23, 25-23, 15-10).
“The second set was pretty much even the whole way and we dropped off at the end. Hikaru and I had to step up our game in the second set and we ended up saving four match points – we literally played our hearts out in that second set to win it and then go on and win the third set.”
The Spotswood pair then beat Westlake’s Katie Sadlier and Zara Pocock 2-0 in the final (21-17, 21-19).
“They were the same pair as we had met in our bronze medal match the week before, so we had a fair idea of what to do.
“Overall, my favourite game was the semi because that felt like a final to me.”
There’s little rest for Libby and Hikarau and the Spotswood College beach volleyballers.
Next up is the New Zealand championships, should they qualify for the respective top 12 boys and girls team places available.
In April they have a tournament to determine who represents New Zealand at the Youth Commonwealth Games in the Bahamas and to a development camp in the USA.
The NZSS indoor volleyball championships are in Palmerston North at the end of March.
Libby has been playing volleyball seriously for a couple of years and has dropped all other sports to concentrate on that. She has already represented New Zealand at age-group level overseas in Thailand (beach) and Australia (indoor).
Hikaru is also a gun tennis player, having represented Taranaki on the tennis court a number of times. But she too is focusing on volleyball at present.
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