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Top New Zealand pair out to boost beach volleyball’s profile before taking on world

Shaunna Polley (left) and Julia Tilley are keeping themselves busy on and off the court

Auckland, New Zealand, April 13, 2014 – New Zealand’s number one beach volleyball pair Shaunna Polley and Julia Tilley have a busy couple of months coming up. 

Following a tough pre-season, the pair from Hamilton have Asian Tour competitions in Thailand and Vietnam before they enter the qualifying round for the first FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour event of the year; the Fuzhou Open in China from April 22-27.

Back in their homeland, the two have already established themselves as fine ambassadors for beach volleyball and have worked tirelessly with Volleyball New Zealand and their regional federation, the Waikato Volleyball Association, to boost the sport’s profile.

In the most recent survey of school student sporting preferences in New Zealand, volleyball was rated as the most popular summer sport among girls – second only to one of New Zealand’s national sports, netball.

As volleyball is not a professional sport in New Zealand, both players have to work while also training, competing and being involved in community affairs.

Julia Tilley hails from the small east coast city of Gisborne, and studied at Waikato University in Hamilton, having received a prestigious Sir Edmund Hillary Scholarship to support her studies and volleyball activities while at University. She now works full time as an early childhood worker.

Shaunna Polley comes from Hamilton, and was a top junior volleyball and field hockey representative player before she also won a Sir Edmund Hillary Scholarship to Waikato University where, as well as studying, she works a part-time administration job.

When not overseas on beach volleyball duty, both players also turn out for Hamilton Volleyball Club. Tilley is the team captain and open hitter, while Polley is a setter and opposite hitter. In 2012 and 2013, the team won bronze medals at the Volleyball New Zealand National Club Championships, with the pair being recognized as key players both years.

As part of their ‘giving back to the community’ philosophy, the pair have been partnered with national children’s health agency Plunket to take part in the ‘World Class Waikato Charity Event,’ for which they have been selected as two of 12 local athletes to partner with charities to raise money for the charity and their own sporting endeavours.

It all goes to show that the work of a New Zealand beach volleyball player is never done, whether on the court or off it.

Click here to learn more about the Fuzhou Open, where Shaunna Polley and Julia Tilley will compete. 

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