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Harbour Raiders and Nelson Pine share honours at New Zealand National Club Volleyball Championships

Harbour Raiders' Imogen Francis gets one past Tauranga's Casey Freed
Tauranga, New Zealand, August 31, 2014 - A third consecutive title for champions Richmond Mall Nelson Pine, and a first ever title by Auckland's Harbour Raiders women was the outcome of a successful National Club Volleyball Championships held in Tauranga, New Zealand, over the last four days.

Harbour Raiders women won their title with a comprehensive straight sets 3-0 (25-23,25-22,25-13) win over 2013 champions Tauranga, while Nelson Pine employed their greater experience to survive a tough Raiders challenge to beat their rivals 3-1 (25-23,25-22,15-25,25-19) in the men’s finals, in a repeat of the 2013 title match.

After a very tight first set, in which the Raiders women came from behind to win narrowly, they dominated most of the second set, until Tauranga made a late comeback from seven points down to create some hope in their supporters' minds.

However, this hope was dashed from early in the third set, with outstanding Raiders hitter Danielle Quigley dominating both attack and defence to give her team a thoroughly deserved victory.

Raiders setter Annalise Vukets made excellent choices throughout the match, putting her spikers in positions where Tauranga's blockers were regularly under pressure, with Aneta Buckley, Charlotte Joy and Imogen Francis all making important contributions.

For the home team losers, captain Lisa Claassen and opposite hitter Beniece Douch tried hard all match, but with limited effectiveness against a very focused Raiders defence.

In the later match, Raiders men made just a few more errors in each of the first two sets to allow Nelson to keep their nose in front and take a two zip lead. The tide turned a little during the second set, when Raiders coach Colleen Campbell brought on some of her younger bench players, with setter Mitch Hallett and middle Alani Nicklin helping drag their team back into the the match to take the third set healthily.

Nelson's experience and greater all-round hitting power took its toll as the match wore on, however, and a series of Ben Glue smashes got them well in front during the last set, a lead Raiders were never able to peg back,

For the victors, setter Patrick Shone consistently made good choices, with Australian players Josh Thorpe and Ben Loft capitalising well, while Johann Timmer and Brad Takai battled hard throughout the match for the Raiders, but were not delivered good balls consistently enough to hit the northerners out of trouble.


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