Despite having the luxury of the number one pick in the 2022 National Volleyball League draft, Central Hauwhenua Women’s Head Coach Brendan Crichton knows his team’s chance of success hinges on the overall quality of his team, not a single player.
Having landed New Zealand representative Nicky Pio with the draft’s opening pick, Nelson-based Crichton and Assistant Coach Adam Watson knew the importance of ensuring the right mix of players were assembled around the talented setter.
“We have tried to get a balance in key positions with our marquee players, not just on the court but off it as well through their valuable intangibles that they bring,” Crichton said.
“They are all players that can lead and are happy to take responsibility at key moments in games. It's as much an excitement and a challenge for them that I want them to embrace and grab.”
Flexibility within the group also looks a key building block Crichton and Watson have used to assemble their squad with the 2022 edition of the NVL running over three straight days in late October.
“We have chosen a team that gives us many options on the outside and right side of attack, and several players with versatility able to play more than one position.
“This gives us the ability to run different offences and looks. It's going to be an exciting 2022 NVL and I want the players to drive the team and be heavily involved in our style of play.”
The team-first ethos will be driven by a group which is chock full of individual talent, with Pio a key piece of the puzzle for Crichton’s team.
“Nicky was an easy pick in the number one spot for us,” Crichton says. “She has an immensely high volleyball IQ, very strong leadership skills and with her experience both nationally and internationally in the crucial setting role, she can control and run the offence.”
Standing alongside Pio in the Central Hauwhenua team will be Harbour’s Hayley Flatz and WECA’s Charlie Clarke, taken eighth and ninth in the draft respectively, a combination Crichton says will be highly valuable to the side over the three-day national event.
“We wanted to secure Hayley early as someone who brings energy, exceptional defence and passing to lead the back court. She was outstanding in last year's NVL in the libero role and carried this form into this year's IPC.
“Charlie gives a strong presence on the outside and with her connection with Hayley on serve receive. She has had a fantastic start to this year's Northern Zone with her club and was a standout at IPC.”
The 2022 National Volleyball League hits the court in October at the AUT Fitness and Sports Centre (North Shore Campus) in Auckland.