The last 6 months have seen the U14 girls work hard with the goal of placing as well as they could at the Alberta Volleyball Provincials held in Calgary this past weekend. Many hours of practice, both on and off the court, went into 6 matches that would determine how the girls would finish the regular season and all that watched the games this weekend would agree that they not only left nothing on the court but more importantly they have gelled as a team becoming close friends and had a ton of fun along the way.

Day one saw us face the PANDAS (Edmonton), Canuck Black and Seven Persons Wolves. The first match with the Pandas was a solid start from the team with a great first pass and all around good play from all the girls taking the first set 25-20. The second six had a more cautious start to their weekend and the Pandas took advantage of our uncertainty which was seen most in the serve receive giving the Pandas a number of free balls to build their attacks from taking the set 25-16. The first six took to the court for the decider and continued where they left off with an impressive display of serve and front line defence not giving the Pandas an opportunity to get any rhythm going and taking the set quickly 15-2. The second match against the Canuck Black team was a repeat of the Pandas match with the first six girls playing some solid volleyball taking the the first set 25-20 and us losing the second 25-15 to have the first six on court return for the deciding set and take it giving up only 9 points. The final pool match was a repeat of the final of the PEAK Bantam tournament from the previous weekend against the girls from Seven Persons: our girls wanted to reverse that result! The first set was a good performance from all the girls on court with us adjusting well to a very strong offensive line from the Wolves, a drop in concentration in the middle of the set allowed the Wolves to close the gap but a quick refocus saw the team pull together and take the set 25-17. The second six took to the court determined to show what they are capable of and they did; going down 7 points early on seemed to give them the jolt they needed to rally themselves around and a couple of quick substitutions at 15points changed the lineup enough to pull back all the points and power through with some impressive middle defence and power hits to push through the Wolves for a well deserved 25-20 win securing first place in the pool and a cross-over match with the Canuck Red team.

The Crossover match was the last of the first day and the girls looked like a team on a mission! They quickly dispatched the first set only giving up 18 points with another solid all around performance from all the girls on court, from Taylor’s determination never to let a ball hit the ground without getting a hand on it, to Polina holding the middle spot firmly in her control to Halla giving a great display of power hitting control. The second six were equally determined to finish the match in 2 sets and did so with a good solid performance with no major drama and some nice play from all 6 girls taking the set in 18 points and lining up a quarter finals with Canada West Black for Sunday morning.

Canada West Black looked like a team determined to move forward in the tournament right from the warmup but our first six on court held them to a relatively straightforward 25-18 win with only a slight wobble in the middle of the set when our first pass became a little loose but we quickly recovered with good passing from Lara and Sadie and Alex ensuring the front line had a good set to hit for the win. The Canada West girls came out much more aggressively in the second set and it put our girls onto the back foot and making too many receive errors to mount an effective attack. A near complete change of lineup at 15points was not enough to overcome the gap and we lost the set 25-17. The deciding set was a great display of volleyball from both teams with neither wanting to give any ground to their opponents but the strength of our front line, especially the middle play from Polina and Lara, was enough to sway the result for a 15-10 win and a place in the Semifinals against the FOG Hawks.

The penultimate match started with the Hawks setting a tough offensive and defensive line on the court that our first six girls work exceptionally hard to break through trading points with the Hawks throughout the set but a disciplined performance from our opponents held the line to take the first set 25-20. The second set saw our girls; Kirsty, Ashley, Paige, Megan, Briana and Jade, hit the court with a level of intensity we haven’t seen too often and we saw one of the best sets of volleyball we have seen from the team all season. They took the game to the HAWKS from the first point mounting attack after attack and working exceptionally hard on defence getting a hand on nearly every hit the Hawks sent over. A couple of strategic substitutions at the mid point of the set saw our girls win an impressive set 25-16 and rattled the Hawks confidence. The finishing six from the second set took to the court for the deciding set with Kirsty and Ashley establishing themselves in both the front court and in defence giving the team a base to build from. It was a tight affair throughout and the parents in the stands from both teams were totally engrossed by the match cheering their girls on but in the end the Hawks prevailed by the tightest of margins taking the set 15-13; a tough loss for our girls to take but with such evenly matched teams the result could have gone either way.

The final match of the day saw us face the Wolves Red team from Grande Prairie, a first meeting of the season. Set one was another tight affair with both teams trading points throughout with some impressive attacking from the Wolves through the middle helping them to a very tight 25-23 win. The second set saw our girls play yet another great set with Megan and Paige both playing their best ‘ball of the weekend dominating the middle and giving the rest of the team a pivot to work around handing 403 a comfortable lead that was held to the end despite a late push from the Wolves to win the set 25-23. In the deciding set the energy seemed to drain from our girls, they had just played 6 straight sets that were amongst the toughest they had faced all season and the Wolves took advantage of the lapse taking an early lead and pushing through for 3rd place overall winning the set 15-5.
This was a tough and enjoyable weekend for the young girls and they all grew as individuals and as a team. Congratulations to all the girls; Halla, Lara, Taylor, Alex, Polina, Sadie, Kirsty, Ashley, Paige, Megan, Briana and Jade for a great season and Provincial weekend and a special thanks from all the parents to the coaching staff (Mike, Jason, Taryn, Beth and Anna) for all the personal time given up for the girls over the season so far.

The girls will be continuing their journey together over the next month with us taking to the court for the ACE 15U tournament in a couple of weeks and then the Western Nationals in Winnipeg in May.