Volleyballer joins top ranks
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.
Poi Wharawhara, 15, and Matamata College teacher in charge of volleyball Andrew Kilham.