Wednesday 20 April 2011 | Published in Regional
The national womens indoor volleyball squad has been holding a series of intense training sessions at the Telecom Sports Arena with the mens squad putting the girls through their paces.
The squad, whove been in training since August, will depart Rarotonga on Thursday to take part in the South Pacific Challenge in Auckland starting on Easter Monday.
Squad captain Tepaeru Herrmann says her team is excited about the challenge ahead and she believes that the squad has the right blend of youth and experienced players.
In fact, Herrmann says that the majority of the squad are no strangers to sports at an international level with a number of players having represented the country in other codes including netball.
Its all going to come down to which team can get it on come competition day, says Herrmann.
She says that the toughest teams at the Auckland challenge will be squads from New Caledonia, as players there compete on the European circuit, and of course the club teams in New Zealand.
Thats why weve been playing against a strong mens side, so we can get used to picking up the hard and fast balls.
Herrmann adds that her squad has already overcome many challenges to get to the international tournament with financial burdens the biggest hurdle.
But you know, that just proves the teams commitment to the sport because theyve made sacrifices to prepare for the competition, says Herrmann.
We are going to lay it all on the line.
While Herrmann says that the local squad has height on its side, the Auckland tournament is still going to be a huge challenge and one they are looking forward to.
The tournament is an important step for Cook Islands volleyball as next weeks tournament will be a good indicator of where the teams development is heading and if this development can be sustained ahead of the Oceania volleyball tournament in January and February 2012.
The local based squad coached by bronze medal beach volleyball player Makea Pauka includes Moari Halston, Nana Manuela-Emile, Tairi Herrmann, Tepaeru Herrmann, Elena Mataora, Fiona Matutu, Tepori Rongokea and Alanna Smith.
Overseas based players include Caroline Semisi, Eseta Semisi, Mamia Opuu and Caroline Uamaki.
This is the 11th South Pacific Challenge and will feature national teams from New Caledonia, Samoa, Tonga, as well as top New Zealand club teams like Sparta and Counties Manukau.
The Cook Islands has competed in the SPC on at least three prior occasions with the best performance from the womens team who won bronze in 2002.
The squad would like to thank all their family, friends and volleyball supporters for backing them in their current campaign.
For those wanting to follow the teams progress at the Auckland tournament sign up the Cook Islands Volleyball Association Facebook page where the team hopes to post updates of their endeavours.
The team returns home on May 5.