Waimea College student Holly Chandler is hoping hundreds of hours of training will pay off when she heads to Laos for the Asian under-19 beach volleyball champs later this week.
Holly has been training for the champs since being named in February to play for New Zealand alongside Northland’s Jasmine Milton. The pair spent last school holidays at a beach volleyball training camp in Auckland and training together in Northland to fine tune their teamwork before flying to Laos for the May 20-22 tournament.
“I played with Jasmine in one game in the US last year and then we were named in the team together in February so we’ve been together a while now,” Holly says. “We get on really well, on and off the court, and although we are both quite silent players, we understand what the other player wants.”
Holly has also been training with Waimea College’s Charles Ching, Tane McDonald, Nick McDonald-Davis and Matt Heyward under the guidance of coach Josh Ovsenek. She says those sessions have been invaluable and she hopes they will help her take “a big step up” for the Asian champs which are a qualifier for the world champs to be held in Cyprus in July.
“China and Japan will be there and they are some of the top volleyball countries in the world so it’s going to be very competitive,” Holly says. “The under-17 girls have just been to their Asian champs in Thailand and they finished seventh and eighth so that gives you an idea of the standard.
“The top five teams qualify for worlds so we’d love to do that. It would be amazing to get to Cyprus.”
Holly also expects the playing conditions to be a challenge with high humidity and temperatures in the high 30s. However, it won’t be totally unfamiliar territory for Holly who played in the Asian under-17 indoor champs in Thailand in 2014 and also has international experience playing in the US and Australia.
The Asian champs, and then hopefully the worlds, will be the end of a busy volleyball season for Holly who also played in the young Waimea College indoor team that finished seventh at nationals in Palmerston North last month. She is also a member of the school’s top basketball and netball teams and last month was named as one of the recipients of the Sports Tasman Pathway to Podium Awards. Charles, Tane and Nick were also selected for national squads named last week. Charles was selected for the national junior men’s team while Tane and Nick were named in the national youth men’s team.