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Volley Ferns Squad - Expression of Interest

Volleyball New Zealand is currently seeking expressions of interest from athletes who wish to be considered for the 2024/2025 Volley Ferns squad.

Athletes selected for this squad will further be considered for the team that will represent New Zealand at the 2025 Women’s Asian Volleyball Championships.

As part of the preparation and selection process, two trial camps both in the South Island and North Island will be run. All Domestic New Zealand players who want to be considered for selection will need to attend trials in their respective region. 

Those athletes who are not currently residing in New Zealand and are based overseas on scholarship OR professional contracts can still register their interest for the squad through the EOI. This applies even if their availability for 2024 is limited, and won’t be available until 2025.

It is also expected that all domestic athletes participate in this year’s 2024 Senior Inter Provincial Championships in Wellington from June 1 – June 3. The Volley Ferns wider squad will be selected following this competition.

Please find details below with regards to upcoming trials for the Volley Ferns Squad, as well as important dates if selected into the squad. Please note that some dates, venues, and costs, for camps and/ or competitions may be currently broad as Volleyball New Zealand is waiting for confirmation from other volleyball associations and confederations. VNZ will endeavour to confirm any approximations as soon as they are aware of confirmed dates, and venues.

Dates

Week of June 1,2024

Volley Ferns squad announced

20th & 21st July 2024

Volley Ferns camp – Auckland/Christchurch

Week 1, August or Week 2, August

Camp & Australia 5 Match Test Series – Auckland

October:  Post Club Nat’s

Auckland

November:  Post NISS Camp

Auckland

June – August

2025 Women’s Asian Volleyball Championship – Location TBC

 

North Island Trial:

Date: Saturday, 11th May & Sunday, 12th May 2024
Venue: Onehunga College, 24 Pleasant Street, Onehunga
Time: Saturday, 9am to 5pm and Sunday, 9am to 2pm

South Island Trial:

Date: Saturday, 18th May & Sunday, 19th May 2024
Venue: Pioneer Recreation & Sport Centre, 75 Lyttelton Street, Christchurch
Time: Saturday, 9am to 5pm and Sunday, 9am to 2pm

Athletes will need to provide their own transport, accommodation, food etc. for trials. 

Please click on the link below to indicate your interest for the Volley Ferns Squad.  The squad will work with Adam Watson as the Head Coach of the Volley Ferns for the coming international cycle.

All athletes are invited to attend the trials.

Any athletes currently abroad and would like to express interest for the Volley Ferns squad, please make contact with Head Coach, Adam Watson on adam@volleyballnz.org.nz 

Expressions of interest are open until Friday 3 May, 2024

Click here to complete the Expression of Interest Process.

For those already registered in Friendly Manager, once login is completed, click the Register Now button and you'll then be able to select the EOI form to complete.

Adam Watson will lead the next international cycle of the Volley Ferns programme. Photo by www.phototek.co.nz
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Watson named to lead Volley Ferns

Volleyball New Zealand confirmed on Friday the appointment of Adam Watson as the Head Coach of the Volley Ferns for the coming international cycle.

The 30-year-old Watson steps into the senior national coaching role after several years of involvement in the New Zealand Junior men’s and women’s programmes.

The Auckland-based Watson was also an assistant coach in the 2021 and 2022 National Volleyball League while also serving as coach of Harbour Volleyball Junior teams for several years.

Volleyball New Zealand Performance Manager Colleen Campbell congratulated Watson on his appointment.

“Adam has been involved in the junior national programmes for a number of years now so it's great to see him moving through into the senior women's programme,” Campbell said.

“We’re looking forward to working with him as he builds the programme after the last couple of years post-Covid and providing some regular international competition for our talented athletes.”

Watson is excited to get going in the position, where he will work closely with the best talent in Aotearoa.

“Being able to coach in an environment with our top echelon of players, and alongside some of our best volleyball coaches is fantastic,” Watson said.

The Volley Ferns were in action in 2023 in Chile. Photo supplied.

“With any top national sporting side there is a legacy that has come before you so it's both exciting and a privilege to step into that space and further the growth and success of the team and programme.

Watson says the community can expect a connected group, on court and off.

“We are aiming to be connected and engaged with our Regional Associations as well as our national junior programmes; it facilitates a deeper connection with our grassroots, where we have come from.

As he gets underway in the early stages of planning the next cycle, Watson says the mahi begins with connection to the culture of the group.

“Culture is massive, myself and the other coaching staff are stepping into a cultural space that has been established long before us. Understanding what has been set beforehand, and upholding those values, and practices while at the same time aiming for growth.

“We will be challenging ourselves in ways that can move towards more success on and off the court. Alongside our cultural growth, technical and tactical growth is paramount to compete at Asian Championships and on the world stage.

“It's a given for me that these facets will be an absolute necessity.”

Meanwhile, the recruitment process for the Volley Blacks position remains open with an appointment to be made in due course.

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The volley life - Volley Ferns tour wrap

With eight official matches against a strong Chile side, more against Under 19 sides, training, analysis and South American travel, it's been a packed return to international touring for the Volley Ferns. 

"It was full on!" said captain Petra Manderson. "We had non-stop volleyball and travel for two weeks, it's been pretty challenging at times, but it's been great for us as a team, an awesome experience with so much volleyball packed into such a short amount of time."

"As a team, we've learned to battle through things like a lack of sleep and different food, all those things you have to deal with when you're playing international volleyball," said Petra Manderson. 

As the first New Zealand touring side since 2019, the Ferns have certainly noticed the step up meeting a hardened Chile side, who are deep in preparation for the Pan American Games. 

"The game is definitely growing in New Zealand, but when you compete internationally it's a whole different level, a whole new speed. Getting to play so many games against a talented Chilean team was really good for us."

"Coming over here as underdogs and not winning a game was pretty tough, but I'm proud of how the team stayed together and went out there and fought for every point, wanted to win a match, and when we did win a set it was pretty epic, just how to battle through and not get down," said Petra Manderson. 

Some of the team are staying on to travel in Chile and to the States, but many will be on the plan home. Having bonded together, Manderson says she'll miss being with the team. "Just being together 24/7 and getting close with old and new friends, living the volley life! It's been fun." 

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Volley Ferns push hard for Chile breakthrough

Game four: Chile 3 (25-23, 25-12, 25-20) New Zealand 0 in Los Andes | Watch replay

Game five: Chile 3 (25-10, 25-9, 25-13) New Zealand 0 in Santiago | Watch replay

For Volley Ferns coach Sebastian Gonzalez Moreno, the Chilean tour has been a chance to develop his team and players significantly in a short space of time, touring and training, along with several chances to pit themselves against the strong home side.

"We're loving it. We've been travelling a lot from one place to another, with one or two days in one place and then on to the next one," said Sebastian.

The Ferns have been playing in the mornings behind closed doors against the Under 19 teams, who are preparing for the World Cup, then taking on the strong Chilean team, who are preparing for the Pan American games.

"It's been full on. They're a great team with a bigger squad than us, many of the players are basically semi-professional, so we're just trying to recycle the squad and keep everyone fresh," said Sebastian.

"Chile are a dominant team, they train 3-4 times a day - the first couple of days on the tour were rough, because we had to adjust to their level, but as we've gone, the girls have become more competitive and consistent. And obviously touring is different, there's a lot to get used to."

The team have been loving the experience of being on tour and playing in front of big, noisy crowds, with players staying behind after matches to take photos and sign autographs for the fans.

"The crowds have been super respectful, cheering our players and the good shots and rallies. After matches, the fans have been coming on court for photos, sharing gifts and chocolates and getting jersies signed. It's a very cool experience and something new for us."

The team is trying to focus on the good points, taking positive feedback from Sebastien and reflecting on what can be done better, and this work is showing up in the results, with the team pushing Chile hard in game four. In the first set the team were two points away from winning a set, only to go down 25-23.

"It was an amazing game, the girls are really finding this level and consistency it takes to match teams like Chile. The main weapon was our blocking, it's been very strong, and we were able to put a lot of pressure on the serve, as well as kill points at the net."

"Game five was pretty rough, there were a couple of external factors we didn't quite deal with, and we weren't able to perform like we wanted to, it was just one of those days where we tried everything, but nothing worked. It's just about taking the lessons and moving on."

This amount of game time and being able to spend so much time in video analysis has seen serious improvement already on tour for the Ferns, putting them in a great space for the future.

"The team has been really self-driven, seeing themselves improve as we've gone on. You can see them thinking 'We can actually take them on when we play well.'"

"We've not been able to tip over and beat a pretty solid team like Chile yet, but it's about getting better all the time - there have been close moments, and if we can work to find that consistency and level of performance through a whole set, we can push them very hard."

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Ferns go close in Game 3

 Chile 3 (25-20, 25-14, 25-17) New Zealand 0

The Volley Ferns fought hard once again in game three against Chile in Iquique but went down 3 sets to nil, as they creep closer to taking a set off the home team.

Both teams played to a high standard, but the Chilean team were able to find deep corner shots consistently, finding answers time and time again to the Ferns blocking game.

"Chile have some incredible hitters, they'll hit where our block isn't consistently. They have such diverse and adaptable players, they can play anywhere," said the Ferns' Lilly Zwart.

Zwart paid tribute to her captain, Petra Manderson, who was everywhere for the visitors.

"There was a super long rally where I was able to make a dig, and Petra went very wide to get it back over, and it went three or four processions before we hit the winner. The crowd went wild, it was a real celebration, great to be out there and part of the match.

The Ferns trail 3-0 in the series, but have another crack at the hosts on Sunday at 12pm NZ time in Los Andes.

"There's one word for touring life - busy! We're so grateful for the support here and at home," said Lilly Zwart.

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