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Volleyball festival one of largest NZ sporting participation events

With 145 teams, and over 2,000 players and officials, the New Zealand Secondary School Volleyball Championships being held in Palmerston North next week rate as one of the largest team sporting participation events in the country.

Hosted in the city's large Arena Manawatu, 2014 marks the 46th consecutive running of the annual event by Volleyball New Zealand, a record that is not matched by many sports in the country.

As has been the case in recent years, the powerful Bay of Plenty region has again thrown up the favourites for both the Girls and Boys Championships; Western Heights High School (Rotorua) for the Boys, and Tauranga's Otumoetai College for the Girls event.

Several other strong contenders also come from the Bay of Plenty, with the South Island's Tasman region schools also expected to mount a strong challenge, to the North Island dominance.

The Auckland and North Harbour regions from Auckland City will also be represented by an increased number of teams, and will be sure to have some teams in contention at least at quarter-final stage.

In all, nine divisions will be contested; five in the Girls' section and four in the Boys'.

The tournament's first games commence on Monday 24th March at 8.15am, with the top division Finals late on Friday evening (28th March).

Photo: Action from the 2013 event

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Updated Age Group Beach Squads Released

The squads for Age Group Beach Volleyball have been updated today subject to athlete acceptance. The wider training squads for the Girls U17 and U19 groups now include all athletes in the beach development programme.  We apologise that some names were missed on the original list circulated.

The Under 17 squads are preparing for the World Championships in Mexico, the Under 19 squads for qualification for the Nanjing Youth Olympic Games and World Championships, and the Under 21 Squad for World Championships in that age group well. The updated squad list is here

Photo: NZSS Junior Girls Medallists with Sam O'Dea

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Junior Champs Underway

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A large turnout of Year 9 & 10 school volleyball teams will be vieing for the 'Island Champion' titles at the Volleyball New Zealand North and South Island Junior Secondary School Championships, being held simultaneously in Tauranga and Christchurch.

The North Island Championships take place at the ASB Baypark Arena in Mount Maunganui from Monday 25th to Friday 29th November, with a field of 49 Girls' teams and 42 Boys' teams participating. Favourites for the top division Girls' title are a raft of local Tauranga teams from Otumoetai, Bethlehem, Mount Maunganui and Tauranga Girls Colleges. Their main challenge is expected to come from Whakatane's Trident High, North Harbour's Rangitoto and Orewa Colleges, and Rotorua's Western Heights High. The dominance of Bay of Plenty sides in the top seedings is expected to draw large crowds throughout the week.

The top Boys' section features a wider spread of teams, with Western Heights leading the way from Orewa and North Harbour's Westlake Boys High, with South Auckland side Manurewa High, and Otumoetai, Bethlehem and Rangitoto all expected to mount a credible challenge. Also featuring at the event will be Girls' and Boys teams from Northland, Auckland, Waikato, Taranaki, Hawkes Bay/Poverty Bay, Manawatu and Wellington.

Down south, the Island event will be played in Christchurch at Pioneer Stadium, and Middleton Grange school, with 39 Girls' and 22 Boy's teams in action from 25th to 28th November.

Girls favouritism is shared equally between Tasman region schools Nayland and Waimea Colleges, and Nelson and Marlborough Girls Colleges, and Christchurch teams from Riccarton, Burnside and Aranui High Schools, and Middleton Grange school.

The southern Boys' title is expected to be fought between schools from the same regions – Nelson, Nayland and Waimea Colleges, with Riccarton and Shirley High being joined from further south by Timaru and Otago Boys High teams in the top seeded positions.

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