North Island One under-18 women went through undefeated but the South Island under-19 men had to trade knockout punches over three days to thump their chests in Napier.

So who learned more in the Inter-Island Volleyball Challenge which ended at the Pettigrew-Green Arena, Taradale, yesterday?

"I think you do learn from a defeat," women's coach, Andrew Kilham, said after his Ginny Broderick-captained North Island One beat South Island 3-2 (21-25, 25-16, 21-25, 25-18, 6-15) after the latter beat North Island Two by a similar margin on Saturday to earn a final berth.

However, a chuckling Kilham served up a "yes and no" when asked if his women came up a little shy in the programme if development was the thrust of a tournament revived after almost a decade to pit national emerging talent against each other. It was a departure from recent tradition in playing against Australian state teams in annual home-and-away quadrangular events.


Having dropped a set to South Island (3-1) on Saturday, Broderick and her troops underwent an analysis of sorts, albeit not as in-depth as they would have liked with their Matamata coach

"We identified a few things we could have improved," Kilham said, comfortable in the knowledge his players had acquired standards to maintain a level of motivation against similar opposition when the margin of victories were slim in games.

"I would like to think that past experience means they would have learned from it so they would be able to be really strong and single-minded about getting the job done."

On reflection, Kilham did concede the South Island men would have come out a little more wiser although the final saw his women lose two more games as the female southerners tried to yank "Big Mo" into their corner with a bit more zest.

"It's pretty hard to keep on beating teams you're only just beating in the first place," he said, preferring as a mentor to be the hunter rather than be hunted when you have nothing to lose.

Understandably, Kilham echoed the sentiments of all coaches in resisting the temptation to single out individuals for praise in a collective effort.

The challenge lived up to its billing and provided them an ideal platform on what sort of mid-term report cards the players were handed with a view to securing a berth for the Asian Championship in Thailand next year as well as the Florida tourney staged at the same time.

South Island male coach Nic Christie's statement summed it up: "It's good to win."

Christie said his team were a fraction more clinical in the final game in eclipsing their North Island counterparts 3-2 (25-16, 12-25, 25-14, 25-27, 15-8) in the final.

They posted a similar result on Saturday morning before North Island turned the tables on them by the same margin in the afternoon.

Christie said passer/hitter Willem Button showed incremental growth during the tourney although he emphasised everyone had as well.

Travel in the inclement weather didn't hinder his team who had caught their flights unruffled into Napier whereas he felt North Island encountered more disruptions commuting via road although a couple of South Island female players were delayed.

Paul Braddock, manager of both male teams, said it was Volleyball NZ's decision on whether the challenge would continue or revert to the quadrangular with New South Wales and Queensland.

Braddock, of Tauranga, saw merit in the challenge in providing a stepping stone for the age-group players harbouring ambitions for higher honours.

"To bring a group of young people together as teams in such a short time it has been very successful," he said.

Volley HB operations manager Tony Barnett said North Island women scored 100-98 points against South Island.

The blokes had a similar two-point gulf 97-95 to South Island.

"It was a great series for everyone involved and the players benefited greatly from four intensive days of training and close matches. The standard kept improving throughout which was pleasing to see," said Barnett who received kudos for hosting the challenge which offered workshops to the teenagers in the build up to three days of action.