Before the sun had even risen on the first day of Term 1, the training for Macleans volleyball had already begun. The 2024 Senior Premier teams consisted of relatively young players but faced high expectations. Having done so exceptionally well in the past, there was discussion of the possibility of the school’s first ever entry to the Volleyball Nationals. Most of the boys and girls had stayed together throughout the years, moving up as a team. This bond was clearly seen throughout the whole season and especially at the 2024 Senior Auckland Championships, with remarkable demonstrations of the time and effort that each individual had put in.

The girls team had a challenging start, pitted against third seed Carmel College right off the bat, who were qualifiers for the 2023 Australian tournament. The unfortunate draw meant that they ended up in Division 2, but the girls soon turned around and came back stronger to beat Auckland Seventh-Day Adventist High School, Avondale, Glenfield, and then Mt Roskill in consecutive straight-set wins. This put them in the Division 2 finals, where McCauley just slipped away by a narrow margin to leave the Macleans girls in 2nd place. There were 59 female teams in the whole tournament. However, the Macleans girls put up a convincing fight and proved that they were a force on the brink of future victories – this loss was not going to stop them.

Entering Auckland Champs as the 2024 Southern Zone Champions, the Macleans boys were undefeated and yet to lose a single match this season. They had also previously placed 4th out of 42 teams in the 2022 Junior Championships, so this year the team aimed to come 9th out of the 63 much higher ranked senior teams. On the first day, they qualified for Division 1 by beating Onehunga and Tamaki. The second and third days were the real challenge – second seed Manurewa and first seed National Volleyball Champions Rangitoto College. Although they were unable to defeat these top schools, one of the leading Rangitoto coaches remarked that the Macleans team were “putting up the best blocks we’ve seen so far”. Despite this small setback, they soon breezed past both Lynfield and Northcote to set themselves up for a 5th / 6th place showdown. In a thrilling 3-setter finale in front of a massive crowd, the boys pulled through to steal the win from Mount Albert Grammar School after a long journey up the rankings. No other team in Macleans history had ever reached the top 8, let alone the top 5.

The Macleans Boys team then went on to compete in the North Island Secondary School Satellite Cup. Over the 3 day tournament, they beat 6 teams in a row to come 1st place, only dropping 1 set the entire time. Their match against Whangarei was particularly outstanding, boasting a 25-11 25-8 win to advance to the semifinals in only 40 minutes.

Mr David Becroft (team manager) says that “this was the best tournament we have ever had – and that is 40 years and more for me”. Alumni and coach Randy Jiang (Te Kanawa) agrees, stating that he is “very proud of the team”. The two staff commend Muhamad Firas Jasin (Batten) for being both a dedicated captain as well as a highly valuable player, and Javier Kruger (Te Kanawa) who excelled in all areas of play. Julia Brito (Mansfield) was similarly seen as a huge asset to the girls team, bringing out the best of the hitters’ abilities with her sets and constantly winning points with her jump float serves. Julia’s departure will be sorely felt in future seasons, along with the rest of the Year 13s.

Macleans has never done so stunningly well. From podium finishes to new records, increasingly high standards have been set for future years. In 2025, the girls move up to South Eastern for placing 2nd in the Eastern Zone this season, while the boys qualify for the Premier Grade having come top 8 at Auckland Champs. This is just the beginning of their story and only time will tell how far the Macleans volleyball teams can go.

Anthea Pan (Kupe, left) and Christy Feng (Rutherford, right)
Regina Sutjahjo (Snell)
Elaina Thomasen (Te Kanawa, left), Julia Brito (Mansfield, centre), and Teodora Cosma (Rutherford, right)
The Macleans girls volleyball team
Wesley Lau (Kupe, left) and Firas Jasin (Batten, right)
Joshua Stephens (Hillary)
The Macleans boys volleyball team
The Macleans boys volleyball team

29th March, 2024
Written by Ally Chu, edited by Hope Zhang
Photography by BC Photography

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