The 403 Selects were formidable opponents at Nationals this weekend in Edmonton, Alberta. The girls battled through Day 1 but realizing they needed to shift gears, dig in and get the job done, they finished the year off placing 12th in Canada. The coaches repeatedly praised their efforts and improvement from the beginning of the season. The girls’ demonstrated outstanding skill, teamwork, and sportsmanship in their last match, leaving the spectators and coaches exhausted from the excitement of the game.

Day One – Preliminaries

403’s first match of the tournament was against the Dynamo Grey from Manitoba. The Selects started off strong with outstanding serves and strategic plays. They were leading Set 1 with a score of 15-3, but the Dynamos were not going down without a fight. They engaged some defensive strategies to tighten up the score, but they couldn’t return the girls’ serving sprees. Set 1 finished with a win of 25-17 for the Selects. Set 2 was a bit more difficult leading us to a third set which the Selects won 15-12. The second match, against Pandas Kaizen (Edmonton, Alberta), was more difficult, however. Having lost a bit of their momentum, they lost to the Pandas in two sets (Set 1: 20-25 and Set 2: 22-25). They started off strong in Set 1 with some killer serves but the Pandas recovered.   Although they lost the match in two sets, the girls were not deterred. Match 3 brought the Selects against Durham Attack Black (Ontario). Set 1 was a difficult loss of 13-25 but in Set 2, the Selects, once again, demonstrated exceptional serving that gave us a point run. Coupling the strong offense with great front row plays, the Selects gave Durham Attack Black a run for their money. Although they lost 23-25, they used the loss as a learning experience and began to regroup and strategize for Day 2.

Day Two – Power Pools

The first match of the day would see 403 up against PGYVC Kodiaks Red (British Columbia). The Selects, having dropped down to tier three, were motivated to get back to where they belong, and quickly locked in two straight wins of 25-22 and 25-13. Spectators saw outstanding plays, perfect sets , nd kills. With their energy and determination back, the Selects went on to Match 2 vs. Elevate Peak (British Columbia). 403 lost a tough one 22-25 but won Set 2 25-13. By Set 3, they were locked in. The girls all played so hard! They were getting their serves in, hitting hard and not letting a ball drop. They quickly won the set, successfully winning their pool and moving up to Tier 2.

Day 3 – Play-offs

Quarter Finals brought us up against Hurricanes Blue (Burlington, Ontario). The coaches felt this was the best they had ever seen the girls play. The Hurricanes were a formidable opponent and the Selects stepped up and made them fight for every point. The Selects lost Set 1 12-25.  In Set 2, they met a bit more resistance from the Hurricanes and lost their momentum with a 15-25 loss. Set 3 left the spectators and coaches exhausted from cheering. The girls gave it their all and definitely played better than they had all year long. Although they lost the set 10-15, the girls were proud of how they played, having demonstrated outstanding skill and sportsmanship. The coaches were extremely proud of the team. The Hurricanes coaches also praised the team, professing admiration of their skill level and team dynamics. Having lost the quarterfinals, the Selects were done at Nationals, finishing 12th in Canada. The parents and coaches were very pleased with the Selects level of play, particularly noting how they brought all of their skills, techniques, and resilience together to give the Hurricanes a good fight to the end.

Final Thoughts

Volleyball Canada Nationals allowed the 403 Selects to exhibit outstanding play, a culmination of months of hard practices, feedback from coaches, team building activities and games. The girls demonstrated exceptional athleticism and sportsmanship all weekend. There is no doubt that the coaches have strong relationships with each and every one of their athletes, as they demonstrated time and again an understanding of what the girls’ needed to hear or adjustments to make in their play. There wasn’t a set that went by where the athletes were not checking in with their coaches for encouragement or play advice. Further to that, the team rallied around each other to either share a success or encourage each other for the win. 

Many thanks to all of the volunteers that made this possible: team manager for organizing all of us, nutrition coordinators, social coordinator, travel agent, scorekeepers, linesmen, and drivers. Also many thanks to Chateau Nova for our accommodations and Edmonton Expo Centre.  Finally, a huge thank you to our coaches for making this such a great experience for both the athletes and parents. Not only did they walk around checking in on their athletes, but they always took time to visit with the parents as well, a sometimes difficult task during busy tournament weekends. The U14 403 Selects coaches exemplified #PACT (Parents Athletes Coaches Together) not only this weekend, but throughout the season. Thank you for the time you spend with our athletes, the thought you put into your practices and the caring words you say to our girls.