Waimea College girls are the South Island Secondary Schools Junior Volleyball Champions but the tears were saved for a dramatic loss that saw the boys' side go down in their final at Marlborough Lines Stadium in Blenheim last week.
The Waimea College girls, ably led by captain and tournament MVP Hannah Davenhill, earned back-to-back South Island titles. Their opponents, Marlborough Girls' College, rallied for a second set win, but a slick Waimea College A outfit were deserved 2-1 (25-17 23-25 25-14) victors.
The Andrew Laing-coached side have gone through their last three tournaments unbeaten.
Along with Davenhill, Katie Ditzel and Georgia Davies of Waimea College, Abbey Franklin of Nelson College for Girls and Momoko Kobayashi of Nayland College also made the tournament team.
The girls' support for the Waimea College boys in their final was "loud and proud", according to coach Peter Malthus, but it wasn't enough to get the defending champions over the line against the home side, Marlborough Boys' College.
Waimea were too powerful and MBC made too many errors in a 25-14 first set won by Waimea. At that stage, Waimea looked well on their way to the title, but midway through the second set, the MBC fightback began.
Their basics improved and they scrambled superbly, allowing them to level things up 25-21.
The two sides went point-for-point from the midway stage of the third set, until MBC got within sniffing distance of victory at 23-21. However, Waimea hit back with three straight points, giving them the first match point at 24-23.
MBC, though, survived that and the three more that followed and, as the pressure finally got the better of Waimea, the home side won three consecutive points and completed a gutsy 2-1 victory.
Malthus said it was pleasing to have both teams in the finals again, after a double win last year, although after the boys' final, the nature of defeat was very raw.
"The team were absolutely gutted. There were tears, lots of tears. They had given their all and played some wonderful volleyball.
"The final was exhilarating and exciting. For me, it was nice to see volleyball being played at such a high level with a lot of support and excitement.
" ... it will be interesting to see how these players develop as they go through the senior ranks. There is some major talent there, that is for sure."
Jacob King, Panith Ear and Max Adams of Waimea College, Riley Haymes of Nayland College and Colm Dubienic of Nelson College were all selected for the tournament team.
Nelson College and Nelson College for Girls were both beaten semifinalists in the indoor competition. Nelson College B took the boys division two title from Middleton Grange School B 2-1 (21-25, 25-15, 25-14).
If you have a secondary school sports story that you'd like to see in the Nelson Mail, contact sports reporter Jonathan McKeown: firstname.lastname@example.org, phone 03 546 2873, or text 027 418 9847.
- The Nelson Mail