Coaches praise Nelson volleyballers

Five Nelson New Zealand age-group beach volleyballers have been praised by their national coaches following their performances at the Australian junior beach championships in Melbourne earlier this month.

Both national coaches, Fiona Scrimshaw and Jason Woods, said they had recommended the eligible Nelson players be added to the wider New Zealand squads for the 2014 Youth Olympics Games in China.

The New Zealand development squad players were Jeremy Ditzel and Monty Brosnahan (under-19), James Anderson and Harry Fergusson (under-17) and Elle Bell, who partnered with Gabrielle Edmondson of Canterbury.

The Australian champs prevent any Kiwi team from progressing into the quarterfinal stage of the state tournaments, so each team attained the top-possible finish of ninth.

The reason for the "dead tournament", is to guarantee an Australian winner, which would have been threatened had the Kiwis from Nelson been allowed to advance. Each team knocked over a number of Australian finalists, though Fergusson and Anderson were nigh on unbeatable.

The Nelson College duo won eight of nine games, each victory coming with scorelines of two-sets-to-nil victories. They played the eventual champions, Guehrer and Montgomery of South Australia, twice, dominating them on both occasions.

Woods, the men's coach, had nothing but admiration for his young charges.

"They were pretty outstanding," said Woods.

"Out of all the teams we had from New Zealand, Harry and James were probably the best, the strongest team we had.

"As a national coach I was very impressed. I've already spoken to the under-19s coach and have told them how good those two were. They are definitely being looked at for the [Youth Olympics] wider training squad."

Woods was also similarly impressed by Ditzel and Brosnahan, though they are too old to be eligible for the Games next year.

"They played some of the best teams from Queensland and New South Wales. The Australians were much taller than our guys, but they still had some amazing wins."

Women's coach Scrimshaw said she had not known Bell and her partner for very long, but felt they had the necessary skills to compete at the top age group levels.

"The first time I met them was on the plane, so I can't take any credit," said Scrimshaw.

"They were great, definitely our top pair. They came from a strong indoor background in the national team, so they have a strong skill base and are used to competition at that level.

"I'd like to see more of them . . . and put them into the wider squad for a Youth Olympics crack."

While still on holiday in the Able Tasman, after returning from sun-drenched South Melbourne Beach, Fegusson said preparation had been a key to their impressive showing.

Training with renowned beach volleyball coach Terryn Proraki and competing against men's teams in a number of Tasman Volleyball Association beach events over the summer ensured the Australian teams were fearful of the ninth place-getters.

The Nelson Mail