The Nambucca Valley's netballers have just returned from the senior and junior state titles where they proved why you should never underestimate the sporting power of our little Valley.
The 15s displayed superb talent and determination, finishing third in Division 2 in the senior NSW titles.
Each game was a hard-fought, nail-biting experience. The defence of Arrin Stirrat-Black and Lily Bartlett saw some brilliant intercepts, while shooters Ellie Spain and Amy Marshall converted these turnovers with a 90 percent shot rate over the weekend - an astounding number given the intimidating circumstances.
The court craft of this team was wonderful to watch, beautifully linked by the mid court players. Marli Bateman and Kirralee Silvia shared the centre position and ran hard all weekend. Brin Trisley and India Flanders remained strong and fast in some very physical competitions, and were pivotal in feeding the ball to the shooters. While Bronte Lees and Aaliyah Hodnett-Daly combined with the circle defenders to create a defensive unit that was hard to penetrate.
On top of the team's bronze, Arrin Stirrat-Black and Ellie Spain were also named in a NSW emerging talent squad, following their performance.
Meanwhile the 13s came away with a stellar result in Division 2 of the juniors.
This year the titles were held in Baulkham Hills, Sydney, with 18 gruelling games over three days.
Last year these girls took out the title in Division 3, defeating Manning Valley in the final game on day three.
This win saw the girls pushed up to Division 2 for the 2019 competition.
On paper this looked like a tough gig for the team, coming up against teams like Mt Druitt, Inner Western Suburbs, Barellan District and Eastwood Ryde.
The 13s spent six months training and preparing for the weekend and were devastated to lose one of their players, Grace Hill, to injury just one week out from the competition.
In the first game on day one the girls were defeated by eventual winners of the titles, Maitland, 18-6.
Coach Cass Notley felt the team were intimidated by the size and reputation of the Maitland team and this was evident in their play.
But from that game on the team came alive and shifted to another level and did not drop another game for the rest of the day, defeating Hawkesbury City (23-10), Fiji Grasshoppers (16-15), Manning Valley (24-9) and Lismore (14-11).
Shooters Pippa Nugent, India Walker, Hannah Sharp and Miia Angel worked hard to get past the strong defence in the circle and followed through with great shots.
The shooters could not have done this without the amazing speed and accurate circle feeds from centre court players Jalaara Walker and Jess Evelyn.
Day 2 saw the girls playing another 7 games against some strong city teams.
The girls had four great wins over Queanbeyan (23-5), Hastings Valley (15-10), Woy Woy (24-7) and Bathurst (23-18), and three close losses to Blue Mountains (18-16), Dubbo (13-12) and Charlestown (16-14).
With only one or two points difference in these games, the NVNA team was proving to be a team to take notice of.
Day three saw the girls sitting fifth on the ladder, with some of their hardest games still to play, including three of the teams in the top five spots on the ladder.
By this stage the whole team was pushing through pain, injury and fatigue.
Coach Cass Notley and manager Jo Evelyn had to work hard to keep the girls motivated for each game, and they dug deep and played some amazing netball.
The first game was against Shoalhaven and they had a comfortable win of 16-5.
Next up was Mt Druitt, a team of big, tall shooters and defenders.
At half time NVNA were down by four but made an amazing comeback and won 21-14.
After defeating Orange 22-10, the U13s were ready to play some of their best netball yet.
The team kept their cool and took control against Eastwood Ryde, slowing the game down to their pace and rattling the opposition to come out with a one point win (12-11).
The formidable NVNA defenders Jemma Wilson, Paige Evelyn, Grace Notley and Ciara Payne caused havoc down their end of the court and forced turnovers that resulted in goals from their shooters.
With their tight defenders, speedy centre courters and accurate shooters, the girls once again proved that they were a team to take seriously when they faced off against Barellan District. It was another nail-biting game and both teams were pushed to their limits, with Barellan just winning with a goal in the final seconds, finishing with a score of 15-14.
The last game of the day was against Inner Western Suburbs and NVNA went on to the court with nothing to lose. Again they managed to keep their cool and rattle the opposition and ended with a draw - 16-16.
The girls worked hard to achieve their fourth place, and their coach, manager and parents said they were extremely proud of not only the final result, but also the great team spirit and sportsmanship they displayed all weekend.
The Under 12s have trained hard, worked hard, and learnt new skills and drills over the last six months together.
Coming together in February this year not knowing each other, they finished the state junior titles in July as one team.
Heading to Sydney for 18 games over three days is a big ask for this age group, but they did not disappoint nor did they give up. Not even after they were ranked in Division 2 - a very fast, competitive division with some very rough games.
They played quite a few city teams and big associations and managed to pull off some great wins.
The defence girls - Fern, Taylor, Olivia and Ava - were outstanding on court, keeping the opposition down with intercepts and pouncing on rebounds.
While the centre court players - Ruby, Evie and Erin - showed speed and accuracy while feeding balls inside the circle.
The team's shooters - Claire, Maddison and Hope - were up against some very sizeable players, but managed to get in some beautiful shots.
The biggest game of the tournament was against Inner West Sydney, a team that hasn't been defeated in a hundred games.
Our girls had them down by four goals at half time, but ended up going down by just one goal.
The whole team played hard over the course of the weekend and put their bodies on the line, with only one or two points in the end score of many games of their games.
They wound up the titles eighth on the ladder - an outstanding result for their first state age competition.
Congratulations on a fantastic state titles season to all our Nambucca Valley teams.