Southland's top volleyballers served up the first round of the Premier League on Monday night, leaving Volleyball Southland management impressed with the quality of play.
The new Lone Star-sponsored six-week competition began on Monday with 10 teams - six in the men's league and four in the women's competition - and, after just one round, Volleyball Southland regional development manager Donna Milne was thrilled with what she's seen.
"The idea behind starting this new competition is to give the region's top players a chance to play more competitively on a regular basis and at a higher level than was available in our social competitions," she said.
"Whilst our social competitions are a huge part of our sport, it's important that we cater to that more elite player base as well, and the Premier League certainly fills that gap.
"From grassroots to elite, our sport needs to be accessible to all levels and we're working hard to achieve that."
The Premier League will be played over six weeks - with one three-week block this month and another starting in late October.
The competition includes several high school teams, who have boosted their stocks with adult players. Milne believes the chance to play at a higher level more regularly will benefit those teams as they look towards interprovincial championships in October.
With players' experience varying from high school level through to a former New Zealand representative, it is a competition Milne expects will be competitive and exciting.
"The first round alone showed just how much talent is out there, which is hugely encouraging. I'm really excited to see how the competition, and the players, progress throughout the six weeks of play," she said.
"Our high school teams, along with all of the other players involved in the competition, should really benefit from playing at a consistently higher level."
The women's competition winner will be decided after two rounds of round-robin play, while the men will have one round-robin round, before playing straight finals in the final round of competition.
- The Southland Times