Volleyball: Captain out to hit Heights

By Greg Taipari, sport@dailypost.co.nz

Volleyballer Kahurangi Robinson believes in the old adage - you can learn more from a loss than a win.

The 15-year-old is the captain of the highly successful, Western Heights High School junior volleyball team.

Kahurangi and his team-mates are the top-ranked team at this year's North Island Junior Volleyball champs at the ASB Sports Centre in Wellington, starting on Monday.

The side returned earlier this month from the Bay of Plenty secondary schools junior champs, where they were beaten by their arch rivals Mount Maunganui.

A Year 10 student, Kahurangi said the side learned more from the loss, than they would have from actually winning the tournament.

"They're [Mount Maunganui] the only team that beat us and the only team that come close to us this season. I reckon because at the other tournaments we were just smoking everyone and we were thinking we were too good and went into the games too soft. We won't be making that mistake next week."

The 185cm and 62kg teenager said the team were determine to stay focused for the entire four-day tournament.

"All the boys are doing well. They've been turning up to trainings and doing fitness in their own time as well.

"It's been pretty intense but it's what we've needed to get us ready."

Kahurangi said the coaches, Paora Morrison and Eugene Bogun, had been talking to the team about the competition as well as taking them through drills to help give them as much advantage as possible.

"They [the coaches] don't want to leave anything to chance and we really want to win it too, so we'll have the senior and junior title as well."

Western Heights won the senior North Island champs earlier this year.

A Te Arawa descendant, Kahurangi said he was looking forward to the champs.

"I think we're feeling confident, we are all excited to go [to the tournament]. But just not excited about the big, long trip [to Wellington]."

Kahurangi said the team had come a long way from when they first started playing volleyball together.

"We've been together for two years, so we probably know each other and trust each other. We built towards [our success] because we kind of lost games when we first started. But now if feels pretty mean because all the teams are scared of us."

Bogun said the side's aggression was a major factor in the team's success. "They've worked really hard as a team, so commit a lot of hours after school, sometimes early mornings," he said.

"You know they're definitely reaping the benefits of their hard work, with the results that they have had.

"I think the team is ready, Paora has had them really humming this week and I've been really impressed and they've improved in a lot of areas we've been trying to get our senior team to do - these guys are doing it," Bogun said.

"They're a lot more advanced than most teams but a winner comes down to what team turns up on the day.

"It's junior volleyball, anyone can win. They've just got to keep level headed and know that the tournament is not over until the final point is scored."

The junior boys' team would also be joined by the school's junior girls' team and the school could have had three teams at this year's champs with the Year 9 team also ranked in the top 18 team, Bogun said.

"We are really proud of our [volleyballers] especially the Year 9 team that is coming through. They have all these strong volleyball skills and pulled out some really strong results this year. They could have gone down there and upset some of those top teams. I have no doubt of that."

The tournament gets under way on Monday and runs until November 30.

Western Heights High School Year 10 boys' volleyball squad: Kahurangi Robinson (captain), Daniel Rakei, Joel Ropitini, Takiwa Maxwell, Ethan McRae, Heremia Shepherd, John Collier, Masiu Vainikolo, Alex Buckley, Haami Biddle.

- Rotorua Daily Post

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