The 17U Selects reached peak performance at the most opportune moment, as they finished 4th overall at Nationals in Toronto, which also placed them as the top Alberta team.

Day 1

Starting out as the #12 seed, the Selects began pool play against Oakville Thunder Blue, winning in 3 sets. Next up was Lynx Rouge out of Quebec. This match also went to 3 sets with the Selects pulling out a 19-17 win in the 3rd. The last match was against the #4 seed, the always-contending Pakmen. By now the Selects had shaken off some of the travel fatigue and took the match to 3 sets before falling in the 3rd. This placed them 2nd in their pool, with Tier 1 in sight.

Day 2

Day 2 began against the #1 seed, Hurricanes Black from Ontario, who were the eventual gold medallists. The Selects came out strong, quickly going up 7 points in the 1st set. The Hurricanes have a particular talent for coming back, however, and eventually won the match in 2 sets. In order to qualify for Tier 1 in Division 1, the Selects needed to win their last 2 pool matches. They defeated Maverick Gold Rush from Ontario in 2 sets before battling against Manitoba’s Jr Wesmen, coming out on top 15-10 in the 3rd.

Day 3

Having secured a top 8 finish, the Selects began Day 3 by facing off in the quarter-final against Ontario’s Prime, the #7 seed, who one Ontario parent described as Ontario’s top defensive team. The Selects continued to prove their mettle, advancing to the final 4 with a 26-24, 25-13 victory.

Joining the Selects in the final 4 were the top 3 Ontario seeds – the Hurricanes, Avalanche and Pakmen. The semi brought the team they hadn’t yet played – the Avalanche. The Selects again played at their peak, with both sets going back and forth until the final few points, with the Selects falling 21-25, 21-25. They had to await the outcome of the other semi which saw the Hurricanes prevail after losing their only set of the tournament to the Pakmen.

The Selects took the Pakmen by surprise in the bronze medal match, winning set 1 25-15. The remaining 2 sets would be a battle that saw the Pakmen coming out on top 19-17 in the 3rd. For a brief moment, the Selects thought they had won at 16-14 but the call was (correctly) overturned by the referee.

As parents scrambled to get to the airport so as to not miss their flights (except for Coach Matt, who missed his), the team gathered at the stage to see their own Ellie Oestrich awarded tournament All-Star. Congratulations Ellie!

This was a storybook ending to a season that saw the Selects rise from Division 3 in Premier 2. They improved their play and rankings at every tournament, and are very proud of their top 4 finish.

Thanks so much to Coaches Mike, Erin & Matt. Without their dedication, this result would not have been possible. Also special thanks to manager Sue, driver Andy, chefs Sonja, Lisa & Cher, videographer Sonja, linesman Kevin, photographer Oksana, scorekeeper Connie and all the parents back home cheering and supporting their daughters from the other side of the country.