Photo above: Meli Naborisi (left) and Keegan Joe with the NZSS Senior Boys Beach Volleyball title.
PHOTO CREDIT: Julie Maree Photography. For photos of the winners go here For more photos visit the website here
“We were runners-up as year 12s last year, now we are the champions as year 13s,” reflects one half of the 2019 Senior Boys NZSS Beach Volleyball Championships winning team, Keegan Joe.
Keegan and teammate Meli Naborisi ran hot in Mount Maunganui last weekend to win the senior boys title, less than a fortnight after also winning the National U19 Beach Volleyball title at the same venue.
“I don’t think we dropped a set all weekend,” says Keegan who represented New Zealand at the Youth Olympic Games in Argentina last October.
The Spotswood College pair continued a fine recent tradition for the New Plymouth school, after former students Libby Houghton and Hikaru Han won back-to-back Senior Girls titles in 2017 and 2018. Keegan and Meli also won the junior title together in 2017.
The tournament was played over two days last Saturday and Sunday, and featured 211 teams (up from 160 last year) on 32 courts across two age-groups and two divisions.
Keegan and Meli beat teams from Otumoetai College, Orewa College (2) and Long Bay College, on Saturday, before accounting for all four opponents on Sunday. After beating a Takapuna Grammar School pair first up in the morning they saw off challenges from three consecutive Bay of Plenty schools – Otumoetai College (again), Western Heights High School and Trident High School.
In the final they beat Jack Oswald and Tawari Stanley from Trident High School.
“We played really consistency in the gold medal match and we got a good rhythm going and ended up taking the game,” says Keegan.
Keegan and Meli had also beaten their Trident adversaries in the U19 section of the national age grade provincial tournament at the Mount on 22 and 23 January, defending their title that they won last year.
Keegan and Meli had a busy build-up ahead of the two recent tournament wins. “We averaged about six trainings a week and then on top of that we travelled around the North Island for some open competitions.”
They are coached and managed by Keegan’s dad, AJ, whose support is invaluable. AJ also coaches Spotswood College’s indoor volleyball teams.
Hard work and success has paid off with the pair having been selected to represent New Zealand at the World Secondary Schools Beach Volleyball Championships in October, although that trip is unconfirmed.
Last October Keegan teamed up former Spotswood College student David Jeffrey in the New Zealand boys team at the Youth Olympics. The Kiwi pair lost all their three matches, to Chile, Poland and Russia.
“But being part of that multisport environment and being around like-minded athletes was an awesome experience, and to battle it out against the other teams in the world was great.
“I also got to watch the other athletes in different sports in action and cheer them on, and they also came and watched us. It was a really good environment.”
The indoor volleyball season is now underway, leading up to the NZSS Championships in Palmerston North in Summer Tournament Week, and Spotswood will be hoping to compete for the Division One silverware this year after winning the Division 2 title in 2017 and 2018.
“The beach and indoor volleyball is ongoing, between the two it is pretty much year-round for us.
“We are working towards the NZSS nationals and we are looking for a top 10 finish there this year.”
Keegan is also busy off the court this year.
Late last year he was chosen as Spotswood College’s head boy for 2019.
“I have a big year coming up, with volleyball and my head boy responsibilities and I am doing a university calculus paper. The head boy role is opening up extra leadership opportunities as well, so I have a lot on this year and it is all going to make my year pretty full-on!”
New Zealand Secondary Schools Beach Volleyball Championships Results:
1st G Stjade/S Young (Nayland College), 2nd T Otene/J Vukets (Westlake Girls' High), 3rd K Allan/M Hinton (St Andrew's College).
1st D Menoita/T Nu'u (Westlake Girls' High), 2nd R Davidson/E Ballantyne (St Margaret's College), 3rd E Dickson/B Puletaha (New Plymouth Girls' High).
1st K Joe/M Naborisi (Spotswood College), 2nd July Oswald/T Stanley (Trident High), 3rd Gillespie/Tiplady (Western Heights).
1st J Robert/K Smith (Hillcrest High), 2nd C Laurent/B Henry (Whakatane High), 3rd J Basson/E Skelton (Rangitoto College).
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