Volleyballers reunite on big stage

REUNION: Petra Manderson, Tasmyn Fahey, Nicky Pio and Chloe Mikaera will link up with their former Burnside High School coach Sam Ryburn as part of the New Zealand under 23 volleyball team. PHOTO: Martin Hunter.

The Asian women’s under-23 volleyball championship in Vietnam next month will be a reunion for four former Burnside High School volleyballers and their coach. Petra Manderson,Tasmyn Fahey, Nicky Pio and Chloe Mikaera have been named in the New Zealand team to compete at the 15-team tournament.

They will be joined on the trip by their former Burnside High School coach Sam Ryburn – who is also the under-23 coach.

All four were part of at least one of the Burnside High seniorgirlsteams which won back-to-back national secondary school titles in 2015 and 2016.

Pio andMikaerahave been playing for the Shirley club in recent times, while Manderson and Fahey are currently on volleyball scholarships at division one colleges in the United States.

“Going to division one is a major step up – everyone’s bigger and everyone’s faster. I was lucky enough to get to play all of last year and it’s tough, but very cool,” said Manderson.

The New Zealand team will be hoping to secure a top three finish at the Asian championship, which would book them a spot in the under-23 world championships. For Fahey, who has just transferred to North Carolina A&T State University, the decision to come home in preparation for the tournament was easy.

“I kind of came back to play for him [Ryburn]. I was in the States, but I knew he was coaching so I wanted to try and make his team,” said Fahey.

They will face No 3 seed Vietnam in their group, as well as Turkmenistan.

“Their ball control of some of the teams in Asia is insane. They get so many, many more reps than we do, it’s really hard to kill a ball against them, theirdefenceis insane,” said Manderson.

None of the girls played volleyball before attending Burnside High School.

The school has developed a successfulprogrammein recent years, turning outa number ofplayers who have gone on to play for New Zealand and been offered US college scholarships.

When asked what the key to the school’s success has been Manderson, Fahey, Pio andMikaeraall gave the same answer – coach Ryburn.

“He chased me around trying to get me to join the team for years . . . I was playing rugby, but he was persistent with convincing me to play volleyball,” Fahey said.

The team will start their Asian championship campaign against hosts Vietnam on July 13.