Representing their landlocked school at beach volleyball often draws a smirk for two Western Heights High students.
But Kahurangi Robinson and Takiwa Maxwell are getting the last laugh as they continue their impressive form in the build-up to defending their North Island junior title in January.
The Year 10 duo were part of a strong Western Heights contin-gent in Mount Maunganui at the weekend competing at the Bay of Plenty Polytechnic secondary schools beach volleyball championships.
After back-to-back wins in the junior boy's division, including victories over schoolmates, Robinson and Maxwell met the same Mount Maunganui team they played in the final of the North Island champs last year.
This time round it was the Mount boys with the upper hand.
"They had told us they'd managed to get in some pretty heavy training in the two-weeks before Saturday," Robinson said.
"We haven't played on sand since the North Islands last year."
Both Western Heights boys play in the school's indoor volleyball team and, incredibly, last year's gold medal-winning tournament was the first time the pair had played beach volleyball.
They admit it took a few early sets to develop a knowledge of the rules and rudimentary skills before they went on to win.
And although Robinson and Maxwell had to settle for silver, they say it will be a different story when it's time to defend their title.
BayTrust CoachForce officer for volleyball in the Bay of Plenty, Edwin O'Dea, said schools from Whakatane and Tauranga, as well as Western Heights, were represented at the tournament.
"Schools have times when they are strong in beach volleyball and times when they are not," O'Dea said.
"The Tauranga teams are pretty lucky to be able to come down here [Main Beach, Mount Maunganui] and practice while I know the Western Heights' boys play very little beach volleyball.
"It's good to see Heights here for the champs."
Brad Fullerton and Burton McAdam from Tauranga Boys' won the senior boys division.
Otumoetai's Abbie Meredith and Julia Hartley won gold in the senior girls while Emma Bain and Kiana Tawa were first in the junior girls.