Rotorua’s Western Heights High School head into the New Zealand Secondary Schools Volleyball Championships starting this coming Sunday in Palmerston North as defending Boys’ champions. Last year, Western Heights won all nine games and beat Australia’s Heathfield High School 3-0 (25-23, 25-21, 25-20) in the Division 1 final, with Mt Maunganui College claiming third place overall.
College Sport Media caught up with Western Heights High School’s coach Eugene Bogun as the team prepares for this year’s tournament.
How is the WHHS team looking forward to this year’s tournament, and going in as defending champions?
The team has had a disruptive build up with multiple injuries throughout the local Bay of Plenty competition. Slowly we are getting a full complement to training so that is a pleasing factor heading into the national champs. Being defending champs adds more pressure on the team as they know that they will have big targets on their backs as everyone will want to knock them over at any stage. The boys just love playing volleyball so they are excited about five days of volley and hanging out with each other instead of being stuck in the classroom.
On the court, how have preparations gone?
The team has played well during the local Bay of Plenty competition where any of the local schools could beat one another on their day. During the recent semi-final we were pushed to the limit by a strong and aggressive Trident team where we were very lucky to come away with a 3-2 victory. In the final we played Tauranga Boys’ College who were also missing key players due to injury. We came away with a 3-0 victory but again the game was a lot closer than the score suggests.
How many of the players from 2015 are back this year, or is this a new-look team this year?
The team is made up of four players from the winning 2015 team and eight from the 2015 B team. All players have played at senior nationals tournaments now so have good experience coping with the pressures a week-long tournament brings.
What are the keys to defending the title going to be for Western Heights, and who are the schools to beat?
We have to forget about 2015 and go into the tournament not to defend the title but to actually win it. We know about how strong the local Bay of Plenty teams are, and that there are many other strong teams out there, especially from Auckland, North Harbour and in the South Island, so winning the title will be a challenge for any team attending this year’s championship.
The other teams to look out for include Manurewa High School, Westlake Boys’ High School, Orewa College, Rangitoto College, Otumoetai High School, Trident High School, Tauranga Boys College, Waimea College and Riccarton High School, and a dark horse would be our Western Heights High School B Team.
Last year was the school’s 10th national title win, please tell us a bit about volleyball at Western Heights High School?
Most of the kids that enter our gym get their first taste of volleyball during year 9. From there the students use the gym during their own time playing during interval and lunch breaks.
The volleyball program was set up by Mr Phil George who coached volleyball at our school for 20 years. During that time he developed what we still live by today, instilling in our players a love for volleyball, representing our school and also how we work in the classroom. During Mr George’s 20 years he coached the Senior Boys’ teams to seven national titles. In 1996 Mr Alani Samia took over and won the senior national title as head coach. He is now coaching at Napier Boys High.
Paora Morrison has also played a huge part in the school’s volleyball history with his teams claiming many titles. He has coached two teams to the senior national title and also three teams to junior North Island titles. He is on a sabbatical this year working on gaining a Diploma in Te Reo Maori hence why he is not coaching the team this year.
New Zealand Secondary Schools Volleyball Championships
What: 2016 New Zealand Secondary Schools Volleyball Championships (Boys and Girls)
When: Sunday 3 April – Friday 8 April
Where: Arena Manawatu, Palmerston North
Coverage: Follow Volleyball New Zealand on Facebook here (link to https://www.facebook.com/Volleyball-New-Zealand-225445877479376/?fref=ts ) Livestreaming of matches on courts 1-4 here ( link at http://livestream.com/accounts/1103671 )
Being the daughter a of former New Zealand representative rower and volleyballer and the youngest of six siblings, three of whom have represented New Zealand in volleyball or basketball, it was perhaps inevitable that Eloise van Velthooven would wear the black uniform too.
After previously playing volleyball for the New Zealand U18s, then 17-year old Marlborough Girls’ College student Eloise graduated to the full New Zealand team last April at the South Pacific Challenge Tournament in Auckland, and played for them again earlier this year.
Later this month she heads off to the USA on a volleyball scholarship to start the next chapter in her volleyball career. “I’m heading to Parkland College in Champaign, which is south of Chicago in Illinois,” she told College Sport Media.
She joins a winning side, the Parkland Cobras. “Last year they were crowned National Junior Division 2 champions – they didn’t lose a game, going 57-0.”
Their statistics were impressive. They played 180 sets during the year and winning 171 and losing just nine. Of the 57 matches, they won 49 of them 3-0.
She will be the only international player in their squad, replacing an Australian player.
“Pre-season starts on 1 August and then the first game towards the end of August, so I’ll be hitting the ground running.”
Eloise has been to the USA before, to Florida in 2014 with the New Zealand U18 team.
She’s not the only New Zealander volleyballer preparing to head over to the USA shortly. “There are several of us volleyballers going over to university, so that’s great there’s a group of us.”
Her good friend from Marlborough Girls’, Lily O’Fagan, has also got a full tennis scholarship to Boston University.
Eloise is expecting a different style of volleyball. “They play a much faster game. New Zealand’s quite a slow game, so it will be a quite a change but hopefully I will adapt quickly.”
Parkland College is a junior college, so the idea is she will move on somewhere else after a couple of years there. At this stage academically she’s interested in studying Kinesiology – that’s the study of human movement – but her options are open.
Eloise played for Marlborough Girls’ College for the five years she was at secondary school. In her Year 11 they came third and then then they finished 11th in both her years 12 and 13. Long-serving Marlborough Girls’ coach, Alister McKenzie, is also the New Zealand Senior Women’s coach.
She has also played for the local team, the Marlborough Redbacks, and has been playing for New Zealand junior and most recently senior volleyball sides since 2013.
Eloise’s mum Deidre represented New Zealand in volleyball and her older brothers and sisters played.
So it was natural that she took to the game.
“I played a bit of volleyball in primary school but actually found it a bit boring back then. The ball went over the net and it seemed it didn’t really come back much!
“But then I took it up properly at secondary school and started enjoying it, plus with my family playing the game I guess it was kind of in my blood to play too.”
As well as volleyball, Eloise’s other sports have been netball, basketball and rowing. She was captain of both the Marlborough Girls’ senior volleyball and basketball teams last year and her and national ranked track sprinter Lucy Sheat shared the school’s 2015 Sportsperson of the Year award.
As well as her mum being a former New Zealand volleyball representative, her father Luke rowed for New Zealand and is a current national junior rowing selector.
Two of her older sisters played age grade basketball for New Zealand and one other in the senior New Zealand volleyball team.
Recently, Eloise has been training hard at home, getting herself fit and ready for the challenges ahead.
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New Zealand’s U19 Men’s and Women’s teams have both qualified for the World U19 Beach Volleyball Championships in Cyprus at the end of July after strong performances at the recent Asian U19 Beach Volley Ball Championships in Laos.
Needing to finish inside the top five or better in Laos, the top New Zealand U19 Men’s pairing of Greg Vukets (Westlake BHS) and Daniel Kilpatrick (Tauranga BC) finished fifth in their section.
The top New Zealand U19 Women’s team of Emily Johnston (Bethlehem College, Tauranga) and Alice Zeimann (Burnside High School) finished second.
Additionally, New Zealand’s second Junior Women’s pairing of Holly Chandler (Waimea College) and Jasmine Milton (Whangarei GHS) finished 11th behind Emily and Alice.
Speaking with College Sport Media this week, Emily said Alice and her were thrilled with the silver medal and qualifying for Cyprus.
“Our goal before the start of the tournament was to make the top five and qualify for Cyprus at the end of July,” said Emily. “We found out before our quarter-final that we had already made that goal, so starting in the quarterfinals our focus changed to one of keeping on playing well and seeing how far we could progress."
Emily and Alice went into the tournament seeded seventh of the 21 Women’s teams.
“We started the tournament on Friday and won our two pool matches [against Kazakhstan 2 and Laos 1] to come top of our pool.
“From then on it was single elimination and we played Kazakhstan 3 in our round of 16 match and won that [21-9, 21-11] one. In our quarterfinal we played Thailand 3 [21-13, 21-18] and then beat Thailand 2 in the semi-final [21-10, 21-15], which put us in the final against Thailand 1. We just went up through the Thailand teams!”
Emily and Alice lost the final 21-17, 21-11 against the top Thai pair. “In the first set we were neck-and-neck with them, and then they started pulling away towards the end of the set. They were executing really well and had good ball control and stepped up their game. We were fighting all the way though.”
The pair now can’t wait to get on the plane in several weeks and head to the worlds in Cyprus. “The goal is the same for us, to focus on each individual game and get out of pool play and progress through the knockout rounds.”
Between now and then they’ll be training hard. “Alice has just left school. She’s already got an indoor USA university scholarship for next year and she has got her SAT exam to sit soon and after that she’ll come up here and we’ll train hard until worlds.”
Emily’s been playing volleyball for several years. “I’ve also represented Bay of Plenty in netball and basketball, but I started playing volleyball in Year 7 and as it got more competitive I enjoyed it more and more. In Year 10 I made the New Zealand U17 team to go to Florida, and so the travel opportunities made it much more appealing.”
Volleyball has already given her several other opportunities to see the world, As well as Laos and Cyprus this year, the sport has taken Emily to the USA (Florida and California), Vanuatu, Mexico and Thailand.
Next year she hopes to gain a university beach volleyball scholarship in the USA.
As well as being an established Olympic sport (since 1996), beach volleyball is now also a Commonwealth Games sport. “The first time it will be as Commonwealth sport will be 2018, so that’s exciting for us to aspire to.”
Emily and Alice’s New Zealand beach volleyball coach is Fiona Scrimshaw. “For this trip to Laos she was really committed in helping us out so we are really thankful for her input.” Emily also thanked her Aspire gym in Tauranga and the Foundation Physiotherapy.
Emily lives with her sister’s family in Tauranga, after previously living with her brother, following the death of both of her parents in a road accident in Kenya when she was 14. “They were on a mission’s trip there with my school. The roads were really bad and it was raining and their van lost control.”
The van driver died and Emily’s parents Brian and Grace and former Bethlehem college pupil Caitlin Dickson were also killed.
Following the recent Age Group Trials and Performance Camp, Volleyball New Zealand announce Junior representative teams!
The NZL Junior Men will attend the South East Asian Junior Men's Championships in Myanmar in July; the NZL Junior Women will attend the South East Asian Junior Women's Championships and the Asian Junior Women's Championships, both in Thailand in July; the NZL Youth Women's and Men's teams will compete at the US High Performance Championships in Florida, also in July and the NZL Junior Women's and Men's teams will attend the Australian Junior Volleyball Championships on the Gold Coast in September.
Trials for the North Island and South Island Youth Men's and Women's teams to also attend the AJVC will be held in July.
NZL JUNIOR WOMEN’S TEAM 2016
Natasha Bannister Nelson College for Girls
Talia Davies Fraser High School
Kristina Emson Waikato
Aria Koria Otago
Emma Mabbott Tauranga Girls College
Georgia Park North Harbour
Jordan Peipi Marlborough Girls College
Teina Rihari Whangarei Girls' High School
Jodi Stevens Western Heights High School
Ellena Taiseni Auckland Girls Grammar
Jesse Te Rito Orewa College
Emerson Tod Mount Maunganui College
NZL JUNIOR MEN’S TEAM 2016
Matthew Butterfield Western Heights High School
Charles Ching Waimea College
Tayne Corporaal Trident High School
Joshua Dumper Tauranga Boys College
Daniel Kilpatrick Tauranga Boys College
Aukusitino Lavea Wellington
Dylan McNeely Otumoetai College
Daniel Michael Western Heights High School
Jon Newman Western Heights High School
Samuel Nielsen Riccarton High School
Francis Pedersen Wellington
Philip Turia Palmerston North Boys High School
NZL YOUTH WOMEN’S TEAM 2016
Rangiteremoana Bradley Moore Wellington East Girls' College
Madison Campbell Otago Girls High School
Libby Collett Burnside High School
Tymara Cox Otumoetai College
Maya Dickson New Plymouth Girls High School
Sharnaye Hall Trident High School
Meleitia Leilua Aorere College
Chloe Mikaera Burnside High School
Theresa Ngata Aorere College
Tamara Otene Westlake Girls High School
Phoenix Paniora Trident High School
Taylor Thorne Otago Girls' High School
NZL YOUTH MEN’S TEAM 2016
Henry Ap'e Manurewa High School
Kuratea Broughton Western Heights High School
Kyle Hamilton Tauranga Boys College
Ashton Howard Westlake Boys High School
Billy Johnstone Western Heights High School
Casey Lewis Mount Maunganui College
Tane MacDonald Waimea College
Kyle Marsters Hillcrest High School
Jacob Mataiti Riccarton High School
Nicholas McDonald-Davis Waimea College
Wanyae Suafoa Manurewa High School
Will Watson Takapuna Grammar School
Greg Vukets has been the captain of the Westlake Boys’ High School Premier Volleyball team for three years. He says leadership is never easy and always involves new challenges.
“I am a vocal captain and I don’t apologise for that, but to bring out the best in people you have to understand their personality. Some guys you can rip into and that’s fine, but others are more sensitive and drop their heads if you give them a spray. I am learning how to talk to people all the time.”
Westlake needed a verbal rocket heading to the National Secondary Schools Volleyball Championships in Palmerston North last week. They were only seeded 14th out of 32 teams. Vukets concedes Westlake were a touch lucky to even be there.
“The top four teams from North Harbour are eligible to compete in Division I. We only got third in Harbour which isn’t great, but I knew we could perform well at Nationals if things clicked,” Vukets insists.
Westlake would have to be at the top of their game immediately. They encountered defending champions and top seed Western Heights High School in pool play. Vukets says Westlake went into the match with a very deliberate strategy.
“Western Heights had some freak athletes, real star power, but also made a lot of mistakes because of all that flair. Our plan was to keep the ball in play as long as possible and try to force a lot of errors. We had to ride the storm when they were on a roll and take our chances when they arose,” Vukets explains.
Despite slumping to a 2-1 deficit Westlake caused an upset winning 18-25, 27-25, 13-25, 27-25, 16-14.
“It was massive to knock over a Bay of Plenty school. There is so much history and competition down there. A Bay of Plenty school usually wins Nationals so to beat Western Heights so early gave us a huge confidence boost,” Vukets says.
The win over Western Heights didn’t signal an end to tough matches. Westlake was extended to five sets against Rangitoto College and Trident High School. Rangitoto was a success (25-18, 25-19, 21-25, 23-25, 15-8) but Trident resulted in defeat (21-25, 16-25, 25-22, 25-19, 15-11).
“To have so many tough matches was tiring, but a really good thing. It built our endurance and confidence.”
The quarter-final against Tauranga Boys’ College proved to be another gruelling encounter. Westlake trailed by two sets to one, but once again found the fortitude to prevail, 20-25, 25-23, 21-25, 25-21, 15-5.
“Tauranga was a tough match. They had some great athletes. We played four five-set matches out of five which is pretty crazy really,” Vukets laughs.
In the semi-final Westlake managed a much quicker work out eliminating Otumoetai College 25-23, 25-19, 25-22.
Manurewa High School was a dangerous final opponent, Vukets provides some insight as to why.
“Manurewa was a very big team with a lot of dynamic athletes. When they got a roll on they were close to unstoppable.”
They weren’t allowed to really start against Westlake who won 25-20, 25-21, 25-23. Vukets was obviously delighted with the result, but confesses it wasn’t a great match.
“I think both teams were tired and nervous which meant it wasn’t a great spectacle. I think we handled the occasion better than they did and that was the difference.”
Vukets plays outside hitter which he describes as “doing a bit of everything.” He was named tournament MVP.
“I was really proud to get that award, but I would like to thank my coaches and teammates. The effort was huge from everybody.”
Volleyball runs in the blood for Vukets. Both his parents played and his sister Annalise is on a scholarship at McGill University in Canada. Greg has represented New Zealand travelling to America twice and Laos. He also plays beach volleyball and basketball for the Westlake First V who were runners up at Nationals in 2015.
At the conclusion of the 48th National Schools Volleyball Nationals - the top 24 Boys and Girls are selected into the Tournament Team for 2016! Congrats to those selected!
Boys Tournament Team
Sam Nielsen - Riccarton High School
Jack Gallivan - Orewa College
Henry Ap’e - Manurewa High School
Tala Potifara - Manurewa High School
Zaya Walsh - Otumoetai College
Billy Johnston - Western Heights High School
Ashton Howard - Westlake Boys High School
Charles Ching - Waimea College
Daniel Kilpatrick - Tauranga Boys College
Luke Carter - Tauranga Boys College
Adam Tyson - Otumoetai College
Greg Vukets - Westlake Boys High School (MVP)
Girls Tournament Team
Leni-Lia Moananu - St Mary’s College
Danielle Tafili - Sacred Heart College
Holly Chandler - Waimea College
Carla Butler - Riccarton High School
Phoenix Paniora - Trident High School
Ruta Urika - Mangere College
Jordan Peipi - Marlborough Girls College
Tamara Otene - Westlake Girls High School
Jess Lawrence - Tauranga Girls College
Emma Mabbott - Tauranga Girls College
Chynae Stark - Burnside High School
Alice Zeimann - Burnside High School (MVP)
Boys Top 32 Pool Standings – Day One
1.Western Heights HS A
4.Marlborough Boys' College A
1.Tauranga Boys'College A
3.Tauranga Boys' College B
4.Kelston Boys High School
2.Trident HS A
1.Otumoetai College A
2.Mt Maunganui Coll
4.NapierBoys HS A
1.Orewa College A
2.Nelson College A
4.Otago Boys' HS
1.Waimea College Gold A
4.Hillcrest HS A
1.Rangitoto Coll A
2.Rowville Secondary College
3.Western Heights HS B
3.Takapuna Grammar School
4.De La Salle College
The 48th New Zealand Secondary Schools Volleyball tournament is being playing at Arena Manawatu, Palmerston all next week. The tournament, featuring some 2000 players, plus coaching and support staff, from throughout the country, is the largest indoor national secondary schools sports event on the calendar.
In total, 75 boys and 97 girls teams (172 combined), representing 99 schools will be represented, with play running day and night for five days. The boys and girls Honours, Premier and Challenger finals are on Friday.
Rotorua’s Western Heights High School (boys) and Christchurch’s Burnside High School (girls) are the defending Division 1 champions. Western Heights defeated a visiting Australian team, Heathfield College, 3-0 (25-23 25-21 25-20) in the 2015 final, whilst Burnside HS edged Nelson’s Waimea College 3-2 (19-25, 25-18, 25-19, 20-25, 15- 12). Bay of Plenty schools Mount Maunganui College (boys) and Otumoetai College (girls) finished third in 2015. Western HeightsHS (Tyran Gillespie/Daniel Michael) and Burnside HS (Alice Zeimann/Chynae Stark) pairs also won this January‘s NZSS Beach Volleyball championships.
The top 10 seeded boys teams at the tournament are (1-10): Western Heights High School A; Tauranga Boys’ College A; Trident High School; Otumoetai College; Orewa College; Waimea College Gold; Rangitoto College A; Riccarton High School; Manurewa High School; Western Heights High School B.
The top 10 seeded girls teams at the tournament are (1-10): Marlborough Girls’ College; Burnside High School; Otumoetai College A; Westlake Girls’ High School; Tauranga Girls’ College A; Waimea College Gold; Mangere College; Mount Maunganui College A; Aorere College; Rangitoto College.
The format of the tournament for the top 32 boys and girls Honours divisions will see teams initially split into pools of four, followed by a top 16 and bottom 16 round and then quarter-finals, semi-finals and finals. Teams will play nine games throughout the week.
Tournament teams and boys and girls Tournament MVPs will be named at the conclusion of the tournament. Last year, Western Heights HS’s Kahurangi Robinson and Burnside HS’s Alice Zeimann were the tournament MVPs. Kahurangi has now left school and has turned his hand to AFL, whilst Alice returns to lead her school to its title defence in 2016.
Immediately following the tournament, a New Zealand Age Group trial will take place, from which Age Group squads will be invited to attend the Volleyball NZ Age Group Performance Camp in Porirua later in April and later selected to represent national teams.
The NZSS Volleyball Championships were first played in 1969, with St Kentigern College (boys) and Hamilton Girls’ High School the inaugural winners.
The schools that have won the most titles have been Tauranga Boys’ College (11) and Otumoetai College (girls, 13).
The previous five winners have been:
Western Heights High School
Burnside High School
Tauranga Boys’ College
Tauranga Boys’ College
Western Heights High School
Tauranga Girls’ College
Westlake Boys’ High School
Tauranga Girls’ College
Pools and Draws
Visit http://www.volleyballnz.org.nz/NZSSNationals-main to view all the pools and draws
Burnside High School’s Alice Zeimann is a three-time New Zealand secondary schools beach volleyball champion.
Earlier this week Alice returned to Christchurch from Mount Maunganui having won the NZSS Senior Girls’ Beach Volleyball title for the third consecutive year.
Alice and fellow Year 13 Burnside High School student Chynae Stark (both pictured above) teamed up to win the national title for the first time together, after Alice and previous partner Nicky Pio won on the sand in both 2014 and 2015.
“For the last two years I was with Nicky and this year I was with Chynae, so different pairings mean a different style of play. I think we adapted really well and so it was awesome to win again,” Alice said. “Especially leading into our indoor season as well.”
The Christchurch pair played several games along the way, going on to beat Tikipunga High School from Whangarei in the quarterfinals, local Bay of Plenty school Otumoetai College in the semi-finals and Whangarei Girls’ High School in the final.
For Alice, it’s the start of a big year in 2016 playing both beach and indoor volleyball.
School-wise, she said she’s got the school indoor national title to defend in Palmerston North in early April. Last year Burnside High School beat Nelson’s Waimea College in the Senior Girls’ final. Alice was the tournament MVP.
“We’ve lost seven players from last year so we’re quite a young team in 2016. But even though we are young we are still really gutsy and I think we have a good shot of defending our title.”
Then there are at least a couple of trips overseas this year representing New Zealand.
“I am going to Laos in May with Emily Johnston from Tauranga’s Bethlehem College for a Beach Volleyball World Championship qualifying tournament. If we qualify we get to go to the World Champs in July in Cyprus.
“For indoor I am hoping to get re-selected in the New Zealand senior women’s team, that plays this year in the South Pacific Challenge, Eastern Oceania and Oceania Championships.”
Volleyball has already taken Alice overseas over the past couple of years, to such places as Florida and California in the USA, Vanuatu, Taiwan and Thailand. She made her senior New Zealand women’s debut last year.
Alice said she used to play other sports but she now has to focus on volleyball, which is basically year-round at the moment. She’ll be training six days a week this year.
Alice said that she enjoys both beach and indoor volleyball, but if she has a preference it’s for the indoor game. “I really like beach but at the moment I prefer indoor but that is just because of the opportunities for me – I am going for an indoor scholarship in 2017 in the USA, hopefully at the University of Minnesota. They are third ranked in the country.”
She explained the differences between beach volleyball and indoor volleyball.
“Beach volleyball is much more individual. I think it is a lot more mental because you are getting 50 percent of the ball, so there is a lot more responsibility.
“It is also harder to move and jump on the sand, and being out in the sun and the wind, and sometimes the rain, you are exposed to the conditions so you have to be able to adapt.”
Alice is also busy at Burnside High School academically. Next year she is eyeing up studying for a BA in international relations or communications.
NZ Secondary Schools Beach Volleyball finals results
Western Heights beat Rangitoto College 21-16, 21-18
Burnside High School beat Whangarei Girls' High School 21-11, 21-16
Tauranga Boys' College beat Rangitoto College 2-1 sets
New Plymouth Girls' High School beat Waimea College 2-1 sets
Bethlehem College third.
Rotorua's Western Heights High School and Burnside High School from Christchurch took out the senior titles at the 2016 NZ Secondary Beach Volleyball Championships held at Mount Main Beach.
Yesterday's finals were the culmination of two tough days of competition from 150 teams.
Western Heights pairing of Daniel Michael and Tyran Gillespie had less trouble easing past Rangitoto College 21-16, 21-18 in the final than winning their semifinal against Daniel Kilpatrick and Ryan Forlong from defending champions Tauranga Boys' College.
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