When the National Volleyball League hits the court in Auckland in October, the league should prepare for a flex of South Island muscle if Head Coach Mary Edmondson and the Southern Pounamu women’s team have any say about it.
Edmondson, a long-time volleyball coaching stalwart based in Christchurch, has assembled a squad connected to their Te Waipounamu roots with eight of the team of 12 team picked from Christchurch and Nelson.
The Southern Pounamu coach says that is very much a deliberate move.
“Our Southern Pounamu team has a strong southern base,” Edmondson said.
“We will work to use the individual strengths as a group to best effect. I enjoy working together with players and coaches to develop an inclusive team culture where everyone feels supported, important and wants to learn.”
Edmondson and Assistant Coach George Koria, firmly backed local and young with their first pick of the draft, grabbing junior international Taylah Holdem at number three before rounding out the team’s marquee contingent with Petra Manderson at number six and Kalani Ruri at number 11.
“Taylah, the young hammer, has the ability to put the ball away in the frontcourt and backcourt. Petra is a player with US College and international experience, and she has an extensive toolbox. Both Petra and Taylah have strong passing skills will give us an excellent platform on which to launch our attack.
“Kalani also comes with US College experience and the ability to play setter or right side which allows us flexibility and she will be a big blocking presence on the right side.”
With those core components in place, Edmondson is quick to remind us that reaching their potential in October’s NVL will rest on how fast the group can blend and transfer into on-court execution.
“Our marquee players will be important, but volleyball is a 12-person game so how quickly we can build connections and discover each other's strengths will determine our success,” Edmondson said.
Those Southern connections just may help speed up that process.
The 2022 National Volleyball League hits the court in October at the AUT Fitness and Sports Centre (North Shore Campus) in Auckland.