The end of April saw bizarre weather and a return to Provincials for the 403 Selects 17U Team. A hard-earned journey back to the top provided the Selects with plenty of highlights this season. Medals at previous VA’s, a trip to the Triple Crown in Kansas City and training camp in B.C. all provided memorable experiences, but more importantly forged the unity and cohesiveness of this group.

Having enjoyed their record on the road, the Team decided upon staying together for their Calgary Provincials competition. Not having seen or be seen by much of their division I competition left many questions as to how 403 would match up.

A first match against a familiar opponent FOG Hawks provided a tough opening. Stellar play by the Hawks libero and right side allowed for long rallies and an entertaining match. 403 prevailed with a 2-0 opening win.

NOOKS has had some very strong results this season and the second pool play game would provide the first matchup of the season for these two teams. Kendra Kern’s setting allowed NOOKS to run some physical attackers and the match stretched out to set 3 before the Selects were able to pull away with the victory.

The final pool play game against a well-coached NAVC Griffins group would provide another 3 set thriller. Sarah Heupel fired the Edmonton team’s offense and the Griffins pulled out a tightly contested match 14-16 in the third.

With the 403 Selects 17s taking first in the pool, a final crossover game against FOG Black would be the last test of the day. FOG’s Maddy Oleshko was stellar in defense, but 403 was playing disciplined enough to send themselves into the Top 8 for the final day.

The quarter-final matchup against Panthers out of Coaldale would be the first opponent on day 2. Having beaten the Selects in VA1, this would provide a good barometer of how far the Team had developed. The Panthers’ Kianna Kuipers and Eryka Woods would have to be contained for 403 to reverse the results. A big start and inspired play by the Selects allowed for a different outcome as they won in 2 to head into the Top 4 teams in the Province.

Having played GPRC Wolves in VA2, the Team was aware of how dangerous the Wolves attackers could be. The return of their setter Carly Thomson, in addition to outside Rachel Perry and Middle Brooklyn Wright, would provide for some great volleyball. With the Wolves taking set one 26-28, they maintained their momentum and ended the 403 Selects run to the final. A well-deserved victory for the defending champions and a tip of the hat to an impressive back to back performance for the Grande Prairie squad.

The disappointment was short lived as the Team had to regroup for their 7th match. A final game for bronze against the Dinos was next. Fantastic passing and defense by Dinos Provincial All-Star, Gabi Wade, allowed the strong attacking of Kaiya Williams to give the Selects difficulties that they could not overcome.

All in all, the girls felt proud of their performance and how they worked to get back to this scenario. The season provided an opportunity to overcome adversity, adapt and thrive by putting the team first. The character of the team shone on many occasions and it couldn’t have been possible without the support of all of our families and friends. Thank you to Volleyball Alberta and all our opponents for a great Provincials.