Thursday, November 2, 2023
Mackay and Whitsunday Life
When schoolboy volleyball rookies Joshua Venz and Tage Guzowski took to the court for the first time earlier this year, they didn’t envisage the boom times ahead.
The promising duo were identified as natural talents when St Patrick’s College assembled a squad for the local Mackay Secondary Schools Volleyball competition.
With passing hitter Venz and middle blocker Guzowski leading the way, the raw-boned St Patrick’s Open Boys team discovered their groove with skilful performances against more seasoned opponents.
Under the guidance of coach Stephen Mortimer and parent Dane Guzowski, the side proved a force to be reckoned with – charging all the way to 2023 premiership honours.
Coach Mortimer could see the potential in his line up as they chalked up five victories in the preliminary rounds – losing just the one fixture to Mackay State High.
Having stumbled on a winning formula, the team combined effectively on court as they gathered momentum in the run home to the finals.
“The boys were keen to learn about volleyball and quickly adapted to the sport with their strong work ethic and commitment to training,” a proud Mortimer stated.
“They hit their straps just before the finals and produced a powerhouse finish to the season to bring home the Open Boys title” he added.
St Patrick’s toppled Pioneer State High in a semi-final then showed plenty of character in a pressure packed Grand Final to defeat Mackay Christian College by two sets to one.
The championship-winning Open Boys squad included Joshua Venz, Tage Guzowski, Jarvis Connor, Caleb Hocking, Alfie Johnston-Wanless, Logan Leisinger, Brendan McHutchon, Patrick Radunz, Ezra Shepherd, Jamon Smith, Jake Tanti and Kevin Varghese.
Just as impressive were the St Patrick’s Open Girls team coached by Rusty Van Zyl and Emma Karrasch who posted three victories before losing an epic semi-final against Mackay State High School.
The squad included Bonnie Archer, Lily Axiak, Lacey Blucher, Sophia Dela Torre, Cassandra Dixon, Cara Donnelly, Keara Ferrer, Tiani Mansfield, Trizia Mar, Star Matthews and Alyanna Valencia.
They struck up a slick combination and improved as the competition unfolded.
Coach Van Zyl praised the efforts of his rookie squad who stepped up to the challenge collectively and produced a courageous performance in their sudden-death semi-final against a more experienced Mackay State High line up.
“The girls were a delight to coach and adapted quickly through their dedication to training and willingness to learn the finer points of the game,” Rusty revealed.
“They gave it their best shot and stood up to be counted in the finals with a tremendous team showing,” he added.
Other schools featured were Mackay Adventist College, Mirani State High and Kutta Mulla Gorinna School.
Planning ahead for 2024, St Patrick’s have stepped up training as they look towards interschool competition in Terms 2 and 3 and competing in the Volleyball Queensland Schools Cup on the Gold Coast.
By Chris Karas
St Patrick’s College Mackay’s triumphant Open Boys Volleyball squad that won this year’s Mackay Secondary Schools Championship title.
St Patrick’s College Open Girls Volleyball squad finished semi-finalists in the 2023 Mackay Secondary Schools competition