KELSO High School will send nine players off to the National Junior Volleyball Championships starting from this Sunday night in Brisbane.
Maddie Vallis, Macson and Hamish Alexander, Lily Grimmond, Maddie Sufong, Deua Berry, Tyler Pears, Harriet Fitzsimmons and Kayla Pett make up the largest pool of players the school has ever sent to the championships.
Five of the group – Macson Alexander, Berry (both under 17s), Grimmond, Vallis, and Fitzsimmons (all under 15s) – have been named in NSW 1 teams for the tournament.
Hamish Alexander, Pears, Sufong (under 15s) and Kayla Pett (17s) will line up in their respective NSW development sides.
Kelso coach Jerry Sheader isn’t surprised to see such a large group of players from the school heading to the nationals at Queensland, especially when considering the large amount of work they’ve put in this year.
“It’s a big thing for us as a squad to get that many players going,” he said.
“They’ve all been putting in a lot of effort. They travel regularly to Sydney to train. It’s a very big commitment not just time-wise but financially as well.
“They’ve had such great support for their families and it means a lot to have that kind of assistance.”
The news gets better for Kelso as both Berry and Vallis will captain their respective NSW teams.
“They’re both captains of our school squads,” Sheader said.
“They’re always the first to arrive and the last to leave. They’re great leaders.”
Berry and Vallis are the only two players from Kelso returning to play at nationals.
Kelso’s representation at the tournament is up sharply from 2016’s group of four.
It shows that Sheader is certainly doing something right, consistently improving and growing the school’s volleyball talent pool with every year that goes by.
The nine-strong Kelso team will be up for a big challenge as they try to turn around the state’s fortunes on the national stage.
Last year not a single NSW team across 15s, 17s and 19s in any division managed to finish in the medals.
Sheader said while he's confident the Kelso crew will be able to contribute greatly to their respective teams it’s difficult to predict how the sky blues will cope in 2017.
“Especially in under 15s it’s a bit of a mystery. There’s a lot of players there you haven’t seen before,” he said.
“NSW haven’t been the best in recent years at this competition so it’s going to be a good challenge for our players.”
The National Junior Volleyball Championships will run through until the 30th of September.
Beyond nationals the Kelso group will have plenty more action to look forward to when they prepare for the Australian Schools Volleyball Cup in December.