16-year-old Alisi Mataele-Katoa will compete in the upcoming junior and senior secondary schools’ beach volleyball competition on February 15.
She also recently competed in the Hawke’s Bay Secondary Schools Junior and Senior Beach Volleyball at the East Pierin Ahuriri, Napier, on January 28.
Mataele-Katoa regularly competes in indoor volleyball and netball, and is known for her tall stature and exceptional skills on the court that she considers to be a gift from God.
Hailing from Flaxmere, Hastings, she was raised in a very religious Tongan household where she grew up attending church with her parents Malia and Siaosi.
Mataele-Katoa’s upbringing in the Tongan Methodist church, along with her deep respect for her own Polynesian heritage means that she does not sport the revealing outfit commonly worn by female beach volleyball competitors during matches. She instead opts to wear shorts and a t-shirt.
Speaking of the bikini-style uniforms worn by other competitors, Mataele-Katoa says “No, I’ll never wear anything like that because I’m shy and I know my roots as a Poly girl.”
Volleyball HB operations manager Tony Barnett says beach volleyball is fairly new in Hawkes Bay because the sand isn’t the best consistency for the sport. Because of this, people are often drawn to playing indoor volleyball instead.
In terms of her newfound interest in beach volleyball, she says “I’ve watched it on TV and I like it but I’ve never had the chance to try it out. I’d like to give it a try because it’s something I’ve never had a go at before”.
Mataele-Katoa is well known for her ability to forcefully spike the ball back over to the other side of the net during volleyball matches. “I love how you can smash the ball,” she says.
Despite her reputation of being a powerhouse on the court, she is currently building other skills under the guidance of her coaches who hope to mould her into an even more well-rounded player.
Mataele-Katoa is also a distinguished netballer, and she is glad that the volleyball and netball seasons do not overlap with one another. However, she easily identifies volleyball as her favoured choice between the two sports “because volleyball training is a lot more fun.”
This story first appeared on New Zealand Herald