Golden girls break through
By CRAIG ROSScraigr@gladstoneobserver.com.au
IT WAS six years in the making but when Gladstone High broke through for a second Australian Volleyball Schools Cup victory in Melbourne last week, it made the achievement all the more sweet.
This year's under-15 champions became the first Sharks out- fit since the 1998 under-14 outfit to secure the national title in Melbourne with a brilliant vic- tory over South Australian heavyweights Heathfield in the final last Friday.
Gladstone Volleyball School of Excellence head coach Brian van der Weide said the Sharks' future looked promising with the un- der-15 players having three more years together as a squad.
He said the open side was un- lucky to finish fifth, the first time a Gladstone open outfit had missed the final for five years.
However, this year's lineup was a young one with five of the Sharks' eight open players still eligible for competition next year, and van der Weide is confi- dent Gladstone will fare even bet- ter in 12 months time.
Van der Weide said there was little between the top five teams in this year's Cup, with the Glad- stone outfit having beaten sec- ond-placed Australian side Baulkham Hills in the qualifying rounds.
He said the fact Gladstone pro- vided the top open and under-15 sides in Queensland, coupled with the Cup victory, ensured the year was a successful one.
Other good news to emerge from the Cup was the selection of Rhiannon Tooker as the Most Valuable Player in the under-15 ranks. Tooker, who is in Bendigo training with the Australian youth team to contest next year's Asian Championships, received the maximum number of votes which were cast by opposition coaches after each match.
Training alongside Tooker in Bendigo is her sister and fellow School of Excellence student Emily.
Meanwhile, prospective 2005 Gladstone Volleyball School of Excellence members face a ner-vous couple of days with letters of acceptance being mailed out yesterday.
See next year's squad list in tomorrow's Observer.