Volleyballer joins top ranks

Matamata Chronicle - - Out&about - TERESA HATTAN

There must be some­thing in the wa­ter at Mata­mata Col­lege when it comes to vol­ley­ball.

The school is be­com­ing renowned for de­vel­op­ing top class vol­ley­ballers and 15-year-old Poi Wharawhara has added her name to that list.

The year 11 stu­dent rep­re­sented the North Is­land youth women’s team at an Aus­tralian vol­ley­ball tour­na­ment dur­ing the school hol­i­days. There were a to­tal of six teams from New Zealand over a num­ber of age groups. Wharawhara’s team were an un­der 16 age group team but went un­de­feated in the un­der 17 chal­lenger divi­sion at the Aus­tralian Ju­nior Vol­ley­ball Cham­pi­onships. The team played Vic­to­ria in the fi­nals and re­turned home with the gold medal.

The team played nine games through­out the tour­na­ment which Wharawhara de­scribed as ‘‘in­tense".

She said the team gelled to­gether and per­formed well against teams made up of mostly older girls.

Skills learnt from play­ing New Zealand rep­re­sen­ta­tive top flight net­ball meant Wharawhara was ex­pe­ri­enced in how to pre­pare for such a phys­i­cal tour­na­ment.

The teenager is rel­a­tively new to vol­ley­ball as a sport, with this only her sec­ond year. Her friend Baylee Nor­ris sug­gested she try out for vol­ley­ball. With her en­cour­age­ment, Wharawhara was hooked.

She loves the va­ri­ety of shots she can play, but spik­ing and at­tack­ing play is a favourite. Wharawhara is a ver­sa­tile player, team coach An­drew Kil­ham said.

Kil­ham said it was great to see the team come to­gether de­spite not spend­ing a lot of time train­ing as a team unit. Play­ers came from all over the North Is­land in­clud­ing Welling­ton and Whangarei.

‘‘I ex­pected us to do OK but I didn’t re­ally ex­pect to win. I thought if we played well we had a chance of com­ing home with a medal, prob­a­bly a bronze as the Vic­to­rian and Queens­land teams are al­ways very strong. I don’t think they re­alise how well they played. It was re­ally spe­cial,’’ he said.

Wharawhara joins the ranks of top school vol­ley­ballers Shay­dene Be­govich, Caitlin Lang­lands and Anilise Fitzi. All rep­re­sented New Zealand in the past year.

PHOTO: TERESA HATTAN

Poi Wharawhara, 15, and Mata­mata Col­lege teacher in charge of vol­ley­ball An­drew Kil­ham.

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