The 2018 Secondary Schools' Volleyball Championships were again held here in Palmerston North at Arena Manawatu and Massey University from Sunday 18 to Friday 23 March. Our senior girls' team was one of the 171 teams that competed in this week-long tournament.
Prior to the tournament, our first goal was to qualify in the top two for Manawatu to ensure we would at least be competing in Division 3 or 4. This would already be an improvement on last year where we competed in Division 5. A win in our tightly fought qualifying match against PNGHS ticked off our first goal. During the opening ceremony on the Sunday evening, all the local schools were asked to support Wiremu Te Awe Awe's welcome with a waiata - however, none of the other schools wanted to. Without shame or second thought, our team of 8 girls stood up in front of over 2,000 people, all by themselves, and sung 'Ehara i te mea' beautifully. It was a very proud moment.
The first day and a half of the tournament consisted of three grading games that would either see us playing the rest of the week in Division 3 or Division 4. We needed to win at least two of those three games to make Division 3. Our first game didn't start the best going two sets down in a best of 5 games. However, with scrappy determination and moments of absolute brilliance, we managed to claw our way back to win 3-2. Our evening game saw us a lot closer to our potential and we took that one 3-0. Our third grading game was a lot harder and we went down 3-0. But the two wins were enough to take us into Division 3 which was another goal achieved.
Unfortunately, the rest of the week was full of hard games against good teams and while we took sets, we weren't able to notch up any more wins. However, another goal was to come away with more experience and knowledge of the game and the tournament than we took in, and I know every team member - player, coach, assistant coaches, our team mums and manager - can confidently say we achieved that goal. As always, it was a tiring week of highs and lows. I am fortunate to be blessed with a team of 8 girls who are all fun to be around and have beautiful personalities, so despite the lows and late nights, it was a great week.
In addition to our senior girls' team, our school played a role in the tournament as well. Tamatea High School from Napier had a boys' team competing in the tournament and thanks to their connection with Mr Van (his old school) they stayed the week in our boys' dormitory. Also, because Massey University gym was not available in the evenings, our school gym was chosen as one of the venues for the scheduled Massey University afternoon/evening games. We hosted eight games for the Division 5 Girls over the first three days of the tournament, in our newly refurbished gym.
Thank you on behalf of the girls to our parents, coaches and team mums, the LAC staff and LAC House staff, everyone who has contributed to our endless fundraising, and all the people who supported us at games. I look forward to doing this all again next year. As it will be the last year for the majority of our senior girls' team, it'll be a big one - best we start our training now, girls!