Australia edge Oceania playoff series

Australia earned a spot in the Asian Volleyball Confederation Junior Men’s Championships over the weekend in Canberra, winning the Oceania playoff series 2-1 over the New Zealand U-20 Men's side.

The hosts claimed the opening match 3-1 on Saturday before winning the pivotal second match 3-2 in a five-set thriller.

Monday's third match saw the Poirewa Aotearoa team take a 3-1 win over the hosts.

New Zealand Coach Ben Laing said he was delighted with the application the team showed for their task against the Australian side.

"Overall I couldn't be happier with how this team applied itself to this series," Laing said.

"Not only to the structured international test format, but playing the same team in a three-match series was a new experience for all of us. Adding on top everything that comes with travelling to new and unfamiliar settings required the very best of all involved. Fortunately, this outstanding group of young men were able to look after each other and put our best foot forward each time we stepped out onto the court."

Laing said the margins were fine in the series and the hosts' coaching expertise was a key strength.

"With two very evenly matched teams standing on each side of the court, I must give credit to the quality and wealth of international experience held by the Australian coaching staff. With capped coaches, past national players and ex-Olympians on the sidelines their ability to navigate the knife-edge that is international competition definitely provided them an advantage in such a hard-fought series.

After suffering the disappointment of the five-set loss in the second match, Laing said one of the main highlights of the trip was the way in which the team rallied for the final game of the series.

"Bouncing back from a tough loss the night before, the third match of this series was the last chance our boys had to really put their stamp on the court, and the young men rose to that occasion outstandingly," Laing said.

"We did a great job of executing our game plan; serving specific zones and targets, along with pursuing aggressive offensive options. The biggest highlight in the match for me was the ability to see all members of the 12-player squad contribute positively towards the win - a true team effort!

Laing said the future is bright for a talented group of players - both internationally and domestically. 

"The chance to play in such an environment against a truly formidable opponent provided a wealth of development opportunities for our players. Many of the team are either already committed or are actively pursuing chances to play university volleyball across North America, or playing domestically for top club sides. This series will provide a great foundation for success in those endeavours.

"I have no doubt we will see many of these athletes representing the pinnacle of Poirewa Aotearoa for years to come."

Oceania Playoff – Asian Volleyball Confederation Men’s U-20 Championships
June 8-10
Australian Institute of Sport, Canberra

Match 1 – June 8 - Australia 3-1 New Zealand (25-20, 25-21, 23-25, 25-20)
Streaming: click here (AusVolley Youtube)

Match 2 – June 9 - Australia 3-2 New Zealand (25-21, 21-25, 25-14, 23-25, 15-10)
Streaming: click here (AusVolley Youtube)

Match 3 – June 10 - Australia 1-3 New Zealand (25-16, 25-16, 20-25, 25-21)
Streaming: click here (AusVolley Youtube)

Junior Men's Development squad set for Aussie

New Zealand U-20 Men Development Teams – Australian Junior Volleyball Championships (U-23)
July 11-14

Adelaide, Australia

Squad (2023 Regional Association representation is noted)

Ben de Goeij – Waikato
Caleb van Eekelen – Canterbury
Cameron Douglas - Bay of Plenty
Charlie Brady – Canterbury
Cuba Rihari – Harbour
Davi Pacheco – WECA
Hikawera Puriri – Waikato
Isaac Weir – Canterbury
James Walker - Bay of Plenty
Jerome Julian – WECA
John Petrucci – Harbour
Jova Waqa – Canterbury
Justin To'o – WECA
Kaipo-Natanahira Ngai Tokowaru – Canterbury
Kodin Wilton – Waikato
Lancer Leilua-Tiatia – Wellington
Logan Vorster – Harbour
Mitchell Stone – Waikato
Oliver Dunphy – Harbour
Sebastian Lams – Tasman
Taiki Pou – Canterbury
Xhovante Siolo - Wellington

Management staff
Ella Carlsen – Head Coach

Seth Phork – Head Coach
Melissa Stone - Manager

Seth Phork:

"I would like to start by congratulating all the athletes and their families for their selection into the NZ Junior Development teams. These athletes have been incredibly committed over the past two years and having the opportunity to wear a silver fern commemorates their body of work so far.” 

“The AJVC tournament will provide our athletes a platform for high-level competition against physical opponents that will certainly test our skills and mental toughness. We will use this tournament to advance our volleyball IQ, build a strong attacking and defensive unit and work on our transition game. I am excited to see how the group builds resiliency and responds to the challenges ahead. The coaching staff and players look forward to continuing to build upon the amazing team culture and come back home as better versions of ourselves."

Ella Carlsen:

“[It is] exciting times as our development teams gear up for the AJVC tour over in Adelaide this year. With talented young tāne eager to elevate their game, this event gives our NZ Junior Development Squads the platform for growth and competition just over the ditch.

“Our team's strength lies not only in their skills on the court but also in the camaraderie and support they offer each other. Throughout the camps, we've witnessed how these players come together, not just to excel individually, but to uplift and empower their teammates. This inclusive and encouraging environment sets the stage for success, both on and off the court.

“In this campaign, we'll focus on broadening their technical and tactical understanding of the game, while also setting high standards for our defensive skills. For many, this will mark their first volleyball experience against international competitors and abroad. It's important for our athletes to approach these challenges with a growth mindset and readiness for tough matches. I'm thrilled to have the opportunity to work with Seth on this tour and to coach such a fantastic group of volleyball players!”


Junior Men named to face Australia

Poirewa Aotearoa confirmed on Friday the New Zealand Junior Men’s squad to face Australia in the playoff for the Asian Championships later this year.

The New Zealand U-20 volleyball squad, led by Head Coach Ben Laing, will travel to Australia for a three-test series in early June to determine the Oceania representative at the Asian Championships in Indonesia in July.

As part of their preparation for the playoff, the squad will compete in the senior men’s competition at the upcoming Inter-Provincial Championships in Wellington, June 1-3. 

The squad is made up of players from five Regional Associations with Bay of Plenty (five) and Canterbury (four), contributing heavily to the mix of players. WECA, Tasman and Otago are also represented.

The squad includes Thomas Vesty, currently in action in the Asian U-19 Beach Volleyball Championships in Thailand.

Laing is relishing the chance the group have to make an impact, first against their trans-Tasman rivals and then potentially at the Asian Championships for the first time since 2018

“Having worked with many of these boys for a number of years and watching them develop in our best domestic competitive environments, the prospect of giving them a true test in taking on the Australian side fills me with a lot of anticipation and excitement, “Laing said.

This is a special group of young men and the opportunity to stand with them as we move on to a world stage is a real honour.”

Laing says his side have a blend of attributes that can serve them well against Australia – both on and off court.

“We have managed to build a squad that combines balance, patience, and rhythm, along with the ability to be flexible and adapt quickly to the game as it progresses.

“We anticipate lots of size and power from the Australians along with their trademark grit at the defensive end, so ensuring our boys can remain focused and trust in our style and strengths will be key to achieving success in this series.”

New Zealand U-20 Men – Asian Championships Oceania Playoff v Australia
June 8-10
Canberra, Australia

Squad (2023 Regional Association representation is noted)

Daniel Hitchens – Middle (Bay of Plenty)
Jamie Julian – Libero (Bay of Plenty)
Ari Leckie – Libero (Canterbury)
Daniel Malcolm – Middle (Canterbury)
Jobe Mcauley – Opposite (Tasman)
Luke McIntosh – Middle (Canterbury)
Michael Tyler – Outside (WECA)
Netana Samia – Setter (Bay of Plenty)
Noah Smith – Outside (Otago)
Calum Stewart – Outside (Bay of Plenty)
Thomas Vesty – Setter (Canterbury)
Kameo Wagner  - Setter (Bay of Plenty)

Management staff
Ben Laing – Head Coach
Brieana Crosbie – Assistant Coach/Manager
Des Kerekere - Referee


Junior Men's Indoor squads confirmed

Volleyball New Zealand confirmed on Wednesday the squads of players targeting 2024 events in the Junior Men’s international pathway.

Following camps and trials held earlier in 2023, a total of 46 players have been named across two wider squads in preparation for events set to take place in 2024.

Junior Men’s Head Coach Ben Laing says it was a tough exercise in making the final selections for the squads with places highly contested across the groups.

“The level of competition for spots in the squad has been phenomenal,” Laing said.

“This has been the biggest challenge of my coaching career having to confirm the wider squad for the Asian Championships.”

“The depth and quality of volleyball being played around New Zealand is growing - the older players in our sport need to watch out, the new generation is coming in hot!”

Now the squad is confirmed, the next steps for Laing, the coaching staff and the wider team becomes the activity and planning ahead of the next in-camp contact scheduled for Christchurch in April (Asian Championships Wider squad). The Asian Volleyball Championship squad of 12 athletes and four non-travelling reserves will be named following that camp.

The Development Teams targeting the Australian Junior Championships are also to be finalised for action in mid-2024 following their camp opportunity slated for Palmerston North in March.

Junior Men’s Indoor – Asian Volleyball Championships 2024 wider squad
Aidan Roberts – Bay of Plenty
Ari Leckie – Canterbury
Calum Stewart – Bay of Plenty
Daniel Hitchens – Bay of Plenty
Jamie Julian – Bay of Plenty
Jobe McAuley – Tasman
Jovan Bosch – Bay of Plenty
Kameo Wagner – Bay of Plenty
Luke McIntosh – Canterbury
Matthew Brett – Canterbury
Michael Tyler – WECA
Netana Samia – Bay of Plenty
Noah Smith – Otago
Ryan Jefferson – Harbour
Thomas Vesty – Canterbury
Xhovante Siolo – Wellington

Junior Men’s – Development Squads
Arama Turner – WECA
Ben de Goeij – Waikato
Caleb van Eekelen – Canterbury
Cameron Douglas – Bay of Plenty
Cameron Mullet – Tasman
Charlie Brady – Canterbury
Cuba Rihari – Harbour
Daniel Malcolm – Canterbury
Davi Pacheco – WECA
Hikawera Puriri – Waikato
Isaac Weir – Canterbury
Izayah Aniseko – MAVA
James Walker – Bay of Plenty
Jasper Nowacek – Harbour
Jerome Julian – WECA
John Petrucci – Harbour
Jova Waqa – Canterbury
Justin To’o – WECA
Kaipo-Natanahira Nga Tokowaru – Canterbury
Kiah Jackson – Bay of Plenty
Kodin Wilton – Waikato
Lancer Leilua-Tiatia – Wellington
Logan Vorster – Harbour
Mateo Roa – Harbour
Mitchell Stone – Waikato
Oliver Downs – Wellington
Roy Tatupu – MAVA
Sam Currin – Harbour
Sebastian Lams – Tasman
Taiki Pou - Canterbury

Junior trials set for September

Volleyball New Zealand is excited to confirm the timing of the trial opportunity for inclusion in the NZ Junior indoor programme.

The trial will take place at Pulman Arena over September 25 and 26 and will include a mix of training and match play.

A full programme outline, indicative calendar and FAQ documents are below providing all the information.

Link to trials registration: Register here

Registration close Friday 8th September, 2023


Volleyball New Zealand | Poirewa Aotearoa
Oceania Volleyball
Volleyball New Zealand Inc
Sports House, Stadium Drive,
Albany, Auckland, New Zealand