By Darren Josephison
For the News
The Warriors U15 girls volleyball team came home from the 200 team Canadian Midget Open held in Calgary May 16 to 19 with well deserved gold medals. It was an extremely satisfying way to end the season, as they traveled to Calgary somewhat beat up and still smarting from a fourth place finish at division two Provincials two weeks earlier. With only four healthy U15s, plus four extra U14s who had originally only expected to come along for the experience, it was looking to be a tough weekend. But instead the U14 would play a major role in seeing the team through winning some key matches on Saturday and Sunday.
After attending Opening Ceremonies at Foothills Friday night, the Warriors began play Saturday afternoon in the Olympic Oval where 22 volleyball courts were set up. They were competing in a 32 team Division two, with their first match against Shaunavon, SK. In a close first set, they overcame an early deficit for a tough 25-21 win, before being blown out in the second set 13-25. The third set was extremely tight, but the girls prevailed 17-15. Next up, without a break, was the Coquitlam Ducks, BC, who jumped all over the Warriors for wins of 12-25 and 13-25. After a break for supper, the Warriors got back at it with match versus Canada West Impact from Calgary, who had played in Alberta’s Division one all season. The Impact took the first set 21-25, before the Warriors responded with a 25-18 win. In the third set the Warriors prevailed again 15-12 to finish with a 2-1 record. Unfortunately following the tie-breakers, the team was left in third place.
Sunday afternoon saw the Warriors begin their second set of round robin matches against the Whitehorse Krush. Starting strong they won 25-18, only to get thumped 15-25 in the second set. Once again in the third and deciding set the Warriors narrowly came out on top with a 17-15 win. In their second match of the day, they took on Club West from Virden, MB, winning a very close first set 25-22. But as earlier again they fell asleep in the second set to lose 13-25. This time there would be no third set heroics as Club West won 7-15.
Finally at 8:15 pm the Warriors played their last round robin match of tournament against the Wheatland Aces from Standard, AB. For their first time this weekend they would be able to field a team of all U15s, and it showed as they played their best match so far winning 25-23 and 25-19 over another Alberta Division one team. This put them in secon place in their pool.
Playoffs began Monday morning with the Warriors facing yet another Division one team, Wolves Red from Grande Prairie. It would not be an easy task they were defeated by this same team in the finals of Premier #3 back in April. The Warriors began the day on a roll at they squeaked out a 25-23 win in the first set, then put the hammer down in the second winning 25-13, to move on to the semifinals.
In the semifinals they faced Thunder Blue from Armstrong, BC. The Warriors roll would continue as they dominated a first set 25-10. The second set was closer, but the result the same with a 25-20 Warrior’s win. After a short break the Warriors got set for their first trip to a gold medal match at Nationals since 2005. It would be an exciting and intense final against the EKVC Avalanche from Cranbrook, BC. The Warriors fell behind early by a 5-10 score but worked hard to narrow the gap until the score was tied at 23-23. Then a big block, followed by a key hit gave them a 25-23 win. The second set would see Cranbrook dominate in 14-25 win. So fittingly it was off to third set again. As in the first set, the Warriors fell behind 0-5, but closed to 6-8 at the break then continued to trail by two all they way till it was 10-12 Cranbrook. Then for whatever reason, everything went the Warriors way as they scored five straight points on route to a 15-12 win and a gold medal finish in Division two.
This concludes a very successful season for Warriors U15s who had Premier tournament finishes of fourth in Edmonton and second in Grande Prairie. Then they won their home tournament in March, and finished with a fourth place finish at Provincials in early May, before this unlikely gold medal finish at nationals.