Waimea College Gold girls are the champions of the 2014 secondary school volleyball nationals.
Coming through a field of 145 teams at the national tournament in Palmerston North, the Waimea girls battled courageously for victory, coming from two sets down to take the title over defending champions Otumoetai College from Bay of Plenty.
Waimea won their quarterfinal match against Burnside High School in a tight match, then danced their way through the semifinals taking out Mount Maunganui College 3-0.
Both Waimea College and Otumoetai College girls had their eyes on the gold as they played a match that had the audience on the edge of their seats - and often out of them.
Waimea took off with an early lead, rattling the defending champions who began to looking unsteady and trailed 10-4. But Otumoetai crept back, however, and with some impressive teamwork were able to pull ahead to snatch the first set 25-21.
Waimea proved resilient in the second, but it was still point for point and spike for spike at the crucial stage of the set. The pressure was manifested in miscommunication on Waimea's part, and once again Otumoetai managed to hang on to take the set 28-26.
Fuelled by determination, Waimea were never going to let the game go easily and led the third set throughout. Although Otumoetai came within two points, the Gold squad came out on top, winning the set to stay alive 25-23.
The fourth set was another intense battle, and Waimea were once again triumphant to force Otumoetai to a deciding set. The underdogs proved their worth in taking out the last set 15-12, and the championship, 3-2.
Waimea College Gold girls coach Josh Ovsenek said: "The girls have a great defence, that's what won it for them."
Power hitter Brittani Harrington won the most valuable player award while team-mate Hannah Davenhill was named in the tournament team.
Two of the Otumoetai College players were also named in the tournament selection, as was Alex Parker from Marlborough Girls' College.
Gold's schoolmates, Waimea College Green will also travel home with some extra baggage after they took silver in the girls' second division, going down in the final to Auckland's Westlake, 3-1. Waimea's top boys team finished in the top eight, despite losing their last match of the week, 3-0 to Tikipunga High School.
Nelson College for Girls A completed a successful week with a bronze medal in division two, beating Chilton St James 3-2 in an epic battle in their last match.
The Nayland College boys secured a bronze in division two following a 3-1 win over Auckland Grammar in their final playoff match while the Nelson College A boys finished 16th in the top grade, no doubt feeling the loss of senior stars James Anderson and Harry Fergusson who were injured midway through the tournament.
Both Fergusson and Anderson were still named in the tournament team. The boys' division one title was won by Tauranga Boys, who beat Otumoetai, 3-0.
Other Nelson region teams in action included the Nelson College for Girls B team, who were beaten for gold in their division three final by Porirua College, 3-2; the Nayland girls, seventh in division two and the Waimea College Green boys, 14th in division three.
- The Nelson Mail