Sixth time lucky for volleyball bridesmaids
By CRAIG ROSScraigr@gladstoneobserver.com.au
THE Gladstone State High open team will look to shake its bridesmaid status by taking out the Volleyball Schools Cup honours division title in Melbourne next week.
After finishing runner-up for the past five years, on each occasion to South Australia's Heathfield High, Gladstone coach Brian van der Weide said the team was primed to capture the gold medal.
However, while he is confident this year's line-up can make that next step, van der Weide was aware the task of beating the best secondary school teams from throughout Australia and New Zealand would again be a difficult one.
"This year it will be just as hard to win as other years,'' van der Weide said.
"The New Zealand contingent will again be hard to beat with a lot of national players and the fact they finish high school at the age of 19 over there makes them very, very strong.
"But the girls have been working really hard and the (Gladstone) team is as strong as those of other years.
"This year we have four national players and last year we had two so we're just as strong if not stronger than then.''
Also contesting the Cup will be the Gladstone Under 15 outfit which is also tipped to perform well under the guidance of coach Kevin Howard.
Like their open schoolmates, the junior side is ranked No.1 in Queensland and will enjoy a coveted top four seeding at the championships which begin on Monday.
The Under 15 outfit has been boosted by the inclusion of Rhiannon Tooker who, although eligible for the age group, has been a fixture in the open side.
Van der Weide said the decision had been made to play Tooker in her own age group to give her the chance to stamp herself as one of the best in Australia in her age group. He rated the 14-yearold a solid chance of claiming the under-15 most valuable player award. The teams, which yesterday staged exhibition matches for year 7 students entering high school next year, will depart Gladstone on Friday before opening their campaigns on Monday.