Volleyballers ready to take on Aussies

01:00, Jun 27 2012
TRANS-TASMAN CHALLENGE: The Australia-bound volleyballers, their coach and managers, from left, Josh Ovsenek, Annie Eden, Harry Fergusson, Ellie Bell, Amohia Busby, Gracie Roberts, Helen Bywater, Brittani Harrington, Hannah Davenhill and Rebecca Malthus.

Seven Tasman region volleyball players will cross the ditch tomorrow, but unlike thousands of other New Zealanders, they plan to return, hopefully with a trophy in hand.

Nelson College for Girls' Ellie Bell and Waimea College's Hannah Davenhill, Annie Eden, Brittani Harrington and Gracie Roberts will travel to Melbourne to play for the New Zealand under-17 girls' team. They are joined by Harry Fergusson and Amohia Busby, from Nelson College, who will play for the New Zealand boys' under-17 team.

The high school students will compete in the Australian state junior volleyball championships before playing Australia in a three-test series for the Murray Mansfield trophy.

New Zealand under-17 boys' head coach Josh Ovsenek said that though the teams had not had a lot of practice together, they were hoping to be able to win the test series.

While the Kiwi teams could not place higher than fifth in the Australian state championships, there was a "big push" for them to do well in the test matches, Ovsenek said.

Even if they did not win the trophy, the trip would give them a chance to experience volleyball on the international stage and help them prepare for moving up to under-19 teams.


"It is a building block for them to make under-19s."

With several players in the teams coming from the Tasman region, Ovsenek said it showed there were great coaches in the area.

"We have a lot of passionate people in the region."

Volleyball throughout the area would benefit from the trip, as the players gaining experience in Australia would make the school teams stronger, he said. "I think it will be great for our region."

The Nelson Mail