Maulolo shuns traditional sport paths

Last updated 11:00 11/09/2012
Standing tall: Terisa Maulolo has led Naenae College to three volleyball titles and is now looking to play professionally in Italy.

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Terisa Maulolo likes being different.

A member of the New Zealand women's volleyball team, she is now trying to find a spot with a professional team in the Italian league.

The most common path for young New Zealand players looking to play overseas is to seek a scholarship at an American university.

Taking that path guarantees an education and something to fall back on, if the sport does not work out.

Having graduated from the New Zealand Institute of Sport, Maulolo told Hutt News last week that going to the United States didn't appeal.

'I just thought it would be different to go to Italy and play because it is the biggest league.'

It was being different that got her into volleyball in the first place.

Of Samoan descent, she started playing at church and found she loved the game.

Whereas most girls who are tall head towards netball, she never enjoyed playing it.

'I thought I would be different and chase my dream [and play volleyball].'

At Naenae College she led the school to three Wellington titles and in her last year in 2009, was selected in the New Zealand under-19s.

The following year she was picked for New Zealand and has been in the team since.

At the recent nationals, she played for the New Zealand Institute of Sport and was chosen as the best spiker at the tournament.

Volleyball has a low profile here and she says Kiwis do not realise just how big the sport is.

Internationally, New Zealand struggles and in a recent tour lost to Vietnam. That has not put Maulolo off the game she loves.

'It is my passion. I have always had a thing for volleyball. It is not so much about running around but a mental game. You have to get your tactics right and be able to read the game and react to your opposition.'

There is little outside funding for volleyball, and that rankles.

'A lot of my aunties say 'go back to netball' because netball here is so big and all we do in volleyball is pay [to play in tournaments or for New Zealand]. But I just don't have an interest in netball.'

There is money in beach volleyball, but 'I have never watched beach volleyball.

"It is just not my thing," she says.

VOLLEYBALL BIG SPORT WORLDWIDE Volleyball gets little publicity here. On its website, the New Zealand Institute of Sport claims 800 million people play volleyball and it is the second biggest sport in the world.

A Google search shows that cricket, basketball, handball, tennis, baseball, table tennis and badminton are some of the sports that claim to be second behind football. If the NZIS website is right, volleyball has about four times the number of players that football does.

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A survey by Sport New Zealand found that for boys aged 15-18 volleyball ranked 17th with 29,000 participants. For girls it was 12th with 34,000 players. Ethnically, the biggest player group is Polynesian girls.

- Hutt News


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