Roaring for Rosa

Story courtesy of College Sport Media 

 

Taita College are the College Sport Wellington (CSW) Regional volleyball champions after an epic five-set victory against St Bernard’s College.

Nine of the Taita boys have been together since Year 9, but at Regionals a vital cog in their team was missing.

Rosa Tuita’lili, affectionately known as ‘aunty,’ was a longtime volleyball manager and staff member at the college. On February 7 last year she tragically passed, an unexpected shock that left the team reeling. Captain Jerome Tafili captures the emotion.

“She was like my aunty so it was very sad. She was always there, everything we did.”

Teammate Taia Taula echoed similar sentiments.

“She kept us in check. Even though we played volleyball it was school first.”

“There were times in the final where I was honestly lost. Our coaches’ screaming at me helped a bit but thinking about Aunty Rose and wanting to make her proud was my main motivation.”

Taita led St Bernard’s two sets to one in the final but wobbled in the fourth set meaning a first to 15 tiebreaker would decide the title. Jerome was wary of St Bernard’s talent but acutely aware of his leadership role.

“They’ve got some good hitters in their team and their mental game is alright.

“I’ve been captain throughout my years of college because I’m the player with the highest expectations.

“I play outside which means I’m basically the main hitter in the team. I stand on the left side of the court hitting the ball with my right hand. I try to play smart and claim.”

Taia is happy to follow.

“I play middle blocker. There are three blockers up front so I make sure everyone’s on time when playing defence.”

Taita prevailed 15-13 having early in the tournament edged Naenae College in five sets and withstood a four-set tussle with St Patrick’s College, Silverstream. Throughout the entire 2022 season Taita has played 16 games and won 15 times.

“I like the bonding with the boys off the court, the sleep overs, the laughs. It’s been a special season. This one is for Rosa,” Jerome said.

Setter Suva Fiti-Time was named CSW Regionals MVP. His role is to run the team’s offence. The setter aims to receive the second touch, setting it for an attacking player. Quick decisions on the court are essential for success.

“Suva is awesome but when we had an assembly and got presented with our medals from the school he forgot his MVP award,” Jerome laughed.

In 2020 Jerome and Taia were members of the Wellington Under-15 team that beat Bay of Plenty in the National final. Both boys are hoping to make the Wellington Under-19 equivalent this year.

The full Taita team was: Jerome Tafili, Jeremiah Setefano, Leone Va’atuitui, Makarios Siuaolii-Ielemia, Suva Time, Ethan Neru, Nehemiah Akeripa, Taia Taula, Olef Maliko, Shane Leo’o, Sio Tafili and Taylor Joe

Head Coach was Roma Vaeau assisted by ex students Tim Tofilau, Mateo Setefano and Valerie Taito. John Tafili and Rosa’s sister Vai Tuita’alili were the management staff.