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Expert advice . . Waitaki Girls' High School netballers meet Queensland Firebirds players Laura Clemesha (back row, fourth left) and Gretel Tippett during the International Netball Festival on the Gold Coast recently. Waitaki players are (front, from left) Brianna Weir, Molly Hurst, Caitlin Judd, Nicole Lowen, Kaylah Rawson; back, India McLay, Holly Beazer, Izzy Hurst, Taneisha Fifita, Hannah Johnston and Jasmine Hunter. PHOTO: JACQUI MCLAY

Waitaki Girls’ High School netballers made the most of their trip of a lifetime.

Eleven of the school’s elite players performed with distinction at the International Netball Festival on the Gold Coast earlier this month.

Waitaki Girls’ made it all the way to the final, where it was pipped 37-35 by Perth side Everlast Flames.

The schoolgirls mixed their playing schedule with plenty of team-bonding activities, training sessions and trips to theme parks over their 10-day trip.

“The girls had a fantastic time, on and off the court,” coach Rihi Schultz said.

“They all got along so well with a unique mix of personalities and ages. It was so cool to see all the girls embrace their differences and truly enjoy each other’s company.”

Salter said the stand-out players on the tour were most valuable player Izzy Hurst (GK), Caitlin Judd (WD-C), Taneisha Fifita (GS) and Nicole Lowen (GD-WD).

Judd, Hurst and Hannah Johnston were “fantastic captains”, leading with words and by example, while an impressive newcomer was Brianna Weir.

“It was awesome experience for some girls who had never been part of a senior tournament – learning how we prepare for games and how we recover after games, and our team debrief sessions.”

Waitaki Girls’ qualified for the final with a 37-32 win over Auckland side Carmel College in the semifinal.

On the opening day, Waitaki beat Carmel 41-30 and Adelaide sides SENP Yellow (43-20) and SENP Black (36-22) before a 43-38 loss to Everlast Flames.

On the second day of pool play, Waitaki beat Fusion (45-24), Runaway Bay Swifts (48-8) and SENP Red (53-11), and further wins followed on the final day of pool play over Tuahine (40-33), Canterbury Comets (48-8) and St Peter’s (41-21).