An 11-strong Hawke's Bay under-17 netball team are banking on their versatility to break open the defence of rivals at the New Zealand national tournament in Pukekohe from today.
The Lee-Anne Taylor-coached Bay are hoping to consolidate their top-eight performance from last year.
"As a group we are completely new to the performance requirements of a National Under-17 tournament. However we have been slowly building throughout the preseason," says Taylor.
"This year we have several combinations that offer different styles of netball which will be used to combat different defensive teams."
Mid-courters Hinehea Keil and Myer Pakoti are captain and vice-captain, respectively, and are returning from last year's campaign with Summer Taylor (WD, C) and Zana Renton (GK).
Bree White, of Central Netball, is a newbie alongside last year's U15 players Asher Grapes, Janayah Lewis, Maddison Kaye, Imke Kitchin, Valentine Kahukura and Jaimee Tapene.
Grapes has been in outstanding form following her Aotearoa Maori campaign and is a linchpin in the shooting circle alongside Hunt for Height player Imke Kitchin and the versatile Janayah Lewis from Napier Girls' High School.
The team are coming off a build-up in the Betty Steffenson (Palmerston North), Bay and Waikato-Bay of Plenty zone tournaments.
Those tourneys gave them some exposure to the top New Zealand Secondary Schools players and teams.
"While we have been a bit inconsistent with our performances we have produced some beautiful patches of netball and we will be looking to build on these," says assistant coach Rebecca Martin.
Forty teams are attending the national tournament encompassing pool play for the first two days.
Hawke's Bay will lock horns with Whangarei, Mid Canterbury, North Harbour 1 and Rotorua.
Team: Hinehea Keil (c), Myer Crawford-Pakoti (vc), Asher Grapes, Valentine Kahukura, Maddison Kaye, Imke Kitchin, Janayah Lewis, Zana Renton, Summer Taylor, Jaimee Tapene, Bree White.
Management: Lee-Anne Taylor (coach), Rebecca Martin (assistant coach), Margot Kerins (manager).