THE Wimmera will send its largest contingent of teams in history to next week’s Australian Volleyball Schools Cup in Melbourne.
Ten sides from three schools in the region will take part in the tournament, which is the biggest volleyball competition in the country.
Horsham College and Murtoa College will each field four teams, while Horsham's St Brigid’s College will send two.
The cup, which starts on Sunday, will be contested by the biggest number of teams since its inception, with 483 teams from Australian and international schools entered.
New Zealand high schools have entered some divisions and the St Brigid’s under-15 girls division three team will face a school from Singapore.
International teams from Japan and Zimbabwe have competed at the tournament in the past.
Volleyball Horsham president David Berry said several of the Wimmera-based teams were in with a good chance to win medals at the tournament.
He said Horsham College’s division three open girls would benefit from experience of players such as Annika McDonald and state representatives Jess Radford and Molly Hobbs.
Horsham College’s under-16 division three and under-15 division two girls teams are also considered medal chances.
St Brigid’s College will go to the tournament with high hopes, with the under-15 division three girls team featuring Coco Ledgar, Olivia Nitschke and Ellie Breuer expected to do well.
Murtoa College’s under-16 division three boys team has practised together twice a week for most of 2013, as part of a volleyball subject at the college.
Berry said the boys stood a chance in a tough pool featuring the likes of powerful volleyball school Bendigo South East College.
“I think there are quite a few realistic medal chances, which is good to see,” he said.
Berry said the strong results of teams at Volleyball Horsham’s 20th anniversary tournament last month showed the schools could be competitive against some of the best teams in the country.
“Looking at our own tournament, I think the teams have been well-prepared right across the board – from the Murtoa teams which do it at school through their sport program, to the Horsham College teams that come from a strong program and also St Brigid’s which has worked hard to get themselves up to speed,” he said.
“They all come from a strong culture where they know they’ve got to work hard to get the reward.”
Berry said it was pleasing to see several former players at the Australian Volleyball Schools Cup returning to coach schools at the weekend.
Former players include Riki Juma, Matthew Berry and Delaney Wills coaching for Horsham College, Brady King for Murtoa College and Nathan Berry for St Brigid’s College.
“The players are coming back and bringing something back to the next generation, which is fantastic to see,” Berry said.