THEY will face stiff opposition, but Kelso High Campus students be going for glory in the Australian Volleyball Schools Cup in Melbourne next week.
Two teams will contest the December 4-9 event, with an A team in under 16s honours division and a B team in under 16s division three.
Kelso’s head volleyball coach Jerry Sheader said the A team has a real chance of doing well in their division.
“This team has been together for three years and they’ve trained consistently for two days a week after school,” Sheader said.
“It’s quite a commitment, as they juggle volleyball with other sports and we travel to Sydney regularly for competition.”
The A team side will go up against the two strongest volleyball schools in Australia – Brighton Secondary School and Heathfield High School.
Both are from South Australia, with Brighton providing a special, competitive volleyball program for its students.
Both South Australian schools have previously been crowned national champions.
Adelaide’s Daws Road High School is the only other school to win the competition, with its success coming in the competition’s first two years – 1990 and 1991.
Kelso’s A team has three state players – Deua Berry, Zac Bourke and Macson Alexander – with Berry being ranked in the top 10 Australian volleyball players at his age level.
“He’s a freak of an athlete and a natural,” Sheader said.
“He has exceptional ability and he’s an all round good athlete.”
Berry will captain the A team and he is confident of a good performance.
“It’s very good to be in honours and it’s a step up,” Berry said.
“We’ve been working hard and we’ve been focused all year.
“We have a good chance if we stick to our game and what we know.
“It’s a tough tournament, but if we stick with the other teams, we’ll show them that we are here to stay.”
Sheader knows his players have prepared well, but also knows any success will be hard-earned.
With the honours division playing the best of five sets in front of bigger crowds, Sheader does not want his players to get caught up in the moment.
It is expected that 5,000 athletes, from 480 different teams and 130 different schools will compete in Melbourne over the course of the week.
“It’s one of the biggest school events in the southern hemisphere and maybe the world,” Sheader said.
Jackson Vallis will captain the B team and NSW representative Jacob Goodwin will be vice-captain.
Sheader is expecting a medal from the B team.
“They’re in it with a really good chance and they have some really good experience, training against an honours team,” Sheader said.
“The practice against the A team will be really beneficial.”
Former Kelso High student, Hayden James, will be assisting with coaching.
Kelso High will take two buses down to the tournament in Melbourme, with 18 students and five staff on board.
Melbourne Sports and Aquatic Centre, the State Volleyball Centre and the State Netball and Hockey Centre will co-host the competition.