BATHURST junior girls volleyball continues to reach new heights after five players competed as part of the under 15s NSW Combined High Schools side at the Schools Sports Australia Championships.
Kelso High School’s Lily Grimmond, Maddie Vallis, Harriet Fitzsimmons plus Bathurst High School’s Zara Sheader and Tegan Bush comprised half of the NSW squad who finished fifth at the Bendigo tournament.
Fitzsimmons impressed during the event and was named in the Australian merit team of 12 – the only NSW player to achieve the honour.
Bathurst involvement continued into the coaching ranks with Jerry Sheader (Kelso High, coach) and Rennay Smith (Bathurst Public, manager).
A loss back at the start of the tournament would come back to bite for the Bathurst, Kelso and NSW girls.
It denied them a chance to play off for a bronze medal but Sheader said his side dealt well with a gruelling schedule of matches.
“We ended up playing 12 matches in all, two games a day and they were best of five sets,” he said.
“We beat ACT in the fifth and sixth place playoff game three sets to two. We had a particularly strong game against Victoria, who ended up finishing second, where we lost 3-2 in a very close match.
“We were unlucky not be in the third place play off. We lost to WA then beat them quite easily later on in the rounds but because of that first loss WA slid just ahead of us into that game.”
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NSW won three of their 10 pool matches but ended on a high but taking out the fifth place playoff against ACT 25-23, 23-25, 25-19, 21-25, 15-6.
NSW took out both of their pool matches against ACT and one with WA.
Overall champions Queensland and runners-up Victoria unsurprisingly featured strongly in the All Australian Team with four players each.
Fitzsimmons flew the flag solo for NSW.
Sheader said Fitzsimmons and her side all displayed excellent energy on the defensive end to earn their result.
“We had some strong defence and we were able to get the ball back a lot. That meant we had a lot of long rallies.
“Unfortunately the consistency of some of the other states, especially Queensland, really showed. Those top two teams were very strong and it was difficult to compete against their lack of errors.
“Harriet Fitzsimmons making the honorary Australian team was great. That went to the 12 most influential players at the tournament. All the girls did really well.
“It was a brand new stadium in Bendigo so it was wonderful to be the first people playing in the $32 million complex. The town all turned out for it.”