Waimea College’s beach volleyballers are heading to Tauranga for this weekend’s national secondary school champs, although for many of the players it will be a case of chasing big game experience rather than medals.
The college is taking its biggest-ever team to the tournament with 20 players, but coaches Josh Ovsenek and Dayna Whiting are taking a realistic approach, saying this year is all about development. Josh says many of the senior teams are still year 12 students while a number of the juniors will be playing in their first national tournament and will find the level of competition to be “a big step up”.
“It’s going to be largely a development year. The juniors had a good tournament last year with two teams in the top four but it’s a big step up to senior.
“And for the juniors, it’s a learning experience although you never know. We got a nice surprise with our juniors last year so it could happen again.”
Josh says the senior boys pairing of Tane MacDonald and Matt Heyward is probably the school’s top medal prospect after finishing fifth in their senior debut last year. Matt and Tane are continuing that form this year, finishing fifth in the under-19 section of the national age group champs in Tauranga last month.
Nick McDonald-Davis and Tom Taikato are also in the senior boys. Nick finished 11th in seniors last year when he was paired with Charles Ching.
Year 12 students Harriet Ogilvie and Flo MacIntyre are the college’s top senior girls team based on national ranking points from tournaments – Flo and Harriet finished fourth as juniors in last year’s nationals. Grace Young and Analese Fon and Alex Bloomberg and Andrina Epp are also in the senior girls section.
Waimea has four junior girls teams, headed by twins Kate and Anna Gaging who have finished in the top five of every tournament they have played in this year. Zoe Harris teams with Rebekah Parsons, Hayley Granger is paired with Alex Spurr and Paris Baillie with Georgia McBeth. Marco Fon and Finn de Hamel will play in the junior boys.