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UNISS 2018


The UNISS 2018 netball tournament for top Secondary school teams, players, managers, umpires and coaches, was held at Harbourside Netball Centre in Mount Maunganui from Monday, September 3 Friday, September 7. This Upper North Island competition consisted of 120 teams playing each other to secure a placing in a grade for next season. The tournament allows schools to enter their top premier team to play two games of netball each day (four 10-minute quarters for one game) in four different grades, A, B, C and D. At the end of the week, the bottom teams of A, B and C grade move down a grade and the top teams from B, C and D move up for next year’s netball season. In A, B, and C grade, there were 32 different teams, and in D grade, there were 24 teams. Last year, Sancta Maria College’s premier team placed in the bottom 16 of B grade. This year’s team was determined to do better than that.

Eleven students (Aerin Henry, Alice Stonehouse, Ashleigh Swainbank, Gemma Holt, Hannah Ralph-Smith, Holly Maunsell-Young, Mia Gilchrist, Martina Kleis, Megan Seddon, Sarah Wallen and Shawna Stowers) were selected to represent the school at this tournament. All eleven students, as well as their coaches Kathryn Stonehouse and Paulette Devane, an umpire from SMC’s netball club, Amelia Chambers, and the teacher in charge of the girls, Mrs Du-Blom, travelled down on the Sunday before the tournament. The girls travelled down in the van, stopping at Paeroa, making a little road trip out of their journey. When the team arrived in Mount Maunganui, they all became familiar with the area, visiting the courts where they practiced and settling into the place making full use of the facilities. 

On Monday the girls were up bright and early at 5:30 am ready for their 8:30 am game. Every day, the girls went for a morning walk to the beach to wake themselves up. They then went back to the campground and ate breakfast, did their morning chores, got ready for the game and headed off to the courts. The team began the week in Pool X of B grade. In their grade was Thames, Pakuranga, and Waihi. The girls first game of the tournament was against Thames. It was a very close hard-fought game. However, the team lost 31-28. Due to the close game, they received one point. Throughout the whole game, either side could have taken the win. Shawna Stowers went on in the fourth quarter wide awake and played with fantastic defence, intercepting three passes within the first two minutes! She got Queen of the Court for this game due to her amazing defensive skills.

The team went back to the place they were staying in between games. They did hot and colds to help their muscles. They made sure that they kept drinking water so that they were hydrated, as well as ensuring that they all warmed down properly and massaged and stretched their muscles. This helped with their recovery. The following game that day was against Pakuranga. The girls took away an exciting win, 40-28, and gained four points. Alice Stonehouse played exceptionally well in this game throwing some wicked passes into the shooting circle to Ashleigh, Holly and Martina. She was awarded Queen of the Court as a result of her smart netball thinking. To stay in the top 16 the girls had to win their third game on Day 2. They went through their recovery after the game and had a well-rested night so that they could prepare for their next game.

Day 2 of the tournament saw the girls playing Waihi at 11 am. The girls took away a win, 27-13, which meant that they made top 16 of B grade. The team was very pleased with this result as it meant that they had made top 16 and had done better than last year. This was their first goal, which they had now achieved. The team decided to set another goal – to make top 8.

The second game that day was at 5:30 pm against Whangarei Girls. They knew that this game would be a challenge but still held their heads high and remained positive. Whangarei girls had a very tall GK and GS. Aerin and Holly played amazingly well against these players making it hard for both their defence and shooters. Despite the fantastic work the team did, they lost 39-18. Holly and Aerin were awarded Queen of the Court for Day 2 due to their play.

By Day 3, the girls were playing for a position rather than a section to stay in. Day 3 saw another close game against Katikati, with Sancta Maria losing 26-23. The girls played an incredible defensive game and held their own. They worked as a team and played for each other. In the afternoon, the team versed Taupo-Nui-a-Tia losing 29-14. The score of this game does not reflect how the girls played. They played awesomely with Hannah and Sarah playing the best games the team had ever seen them play. Due to this, they were both awarded Queen of the Court in the game as a result of the number of intercepts they made, the pressure they put on the opposition’s attack and their defensive game.

Sancta Maria played Waitakere at 10:30 am and Saint Mary’s at 3:30 pm on Thursday (Day 4). Unfortunately, the girls lost both of their games on day 4 of UNISS. They lost 43-21 in their first game and lost 33-26 in their second game. The girls played with passion and determination throughout these games. Ashleigh Swainbank shot some terrific goals from all distances in the first game. She was an easy option at centre pass and took two opposing defence players out with her which made it easy for Alice to pass straight into Martina. She got Queen of the Court because of this due to playing strategically. In the second game, Mia and Gemma continued to drive to the ball and were always an option for the shooters. They threw good strong passes and were always on their toes ready for the next move. They both were awarded Queen of the Court in the second game.

The last day of UNISS for the premier netball team was exciting and tiring. This was the last time Martina, Alice and Megan were going to play for the school. The team gave it their all and made sure it was the best two games the Year 13s would play and hoped to end on a high for them. The first game the girls were playing was at 9:30 am against Rosehill. After being neck in neck each quarter, the girls sadly lost 26-25. The game, however, was a very good one. It was hard fought and could have been any one’s game. The second game of the day was against Otumoetai at 12:30. The team was playing for 15/16th place and were very eager to win. The team finished with a win, 29-23, a great way to end the season. Everyone in support of the team was very proud to end the tournament with a victory.

UNISS 2018 was an unforgettable time for everyone involved. A special thank you goes out to the coaches Kathryn Stonehouse and Paulette Devane, their manager Felicity Caldwell, Mrs Du-Blom for supervising during the week, Amelia Chambers for umpiring at the tournament, Alice Stonehouse the captain of the team, and all parents and supporters who watched the girls and to everyone else who made this week possible. The girls wouldn’t have been able to have had the experience they had and as much fun as they did without everyone who was involved.

Mia Gilchrist