Four Estevan teams competed at the Conexus Saskatchewan provincial volleyball championships held in Saskatoon and Warman from Friday to Sunday.
The Estevan Extreme 14-and-under girls team went 4-3 in Tier 2 in their division, and won the silver medal. They opened with a pair of victories, defeating the Cudworth Volleyball Club 2-0 (25-15, 25-15) and the Prince Albert Optimist Toppers Fuerza 2-0 (25-10, 25-22).
But then they dropped their next two games, 2-1 (23-25, 25-13, 20-18) to the Queen City Volleyball Club Sabatage, and 2-0 (25-18, 25-23) to the Moose Jaw Element Panthers.
The Extreme recovered to defeat the Saskatoon JCVC Black 2-0 (25-17, 26-24) in the quarter-final, and the Queen City Volleyball Club Ghostbusters 2-1 (23-25, 25-14, 15-11) in the semifinal.
But they were knocked off 2-1 (19-25, 25-18, 15-13) by the HVC Green of Saskatoon in the gold medal game.
The Southeast Smash, competing out of Estevan, won the bronze medal in the boys Tier 2 under-14 division on the strength of a 5-2 record.
They opened with a tough loss, 2-1 (23-25, 25-12, 15-11) against Saskatoon’s JCVC Black. But their next three games in the round-robin were victories, a 2-1 (15-25, 25-11, 15-7) decision over the North Battleford BVC 13U Power, 2-0 (25-13, 25-18) over the Battlefords’ BVC 14U Power and 2-0 (27-25, 25-20) over the Meadow Lake Heat.
The Smash continued to roll in the quarter-finals with a 2-0 (25-9, 25-21) win over Saskatoon’s JCVC 13U Red, but then they dropped a 2-0 (25-15, 25-22) match against Saskatoon’s JCVC 14U Black.
The Smash recovered to defeat the Heat 2-1 (25-18, 26-24, 15-8) in the bronze medal game.
“The boys did really well,” said coach Clinton Gibbons. “They really progressed through the tournament, from Game 1 right to the end. They got better and better, and the momentum was good.”
Gibbons said he is already looking forward to next season. He would like to see more players come out and join the team, as they only had nine this season, and so he hopes the bronze medal will serve as a drawing card for aspiring players.
Ball control and passing were their biggest strengths, which helped them overcome the size and strength of bigger and harder-hitting teams.
“Our first pass was a really good pass,” he said.
The Southeast Giants, based out of Estevan, competed in Tier 1 of the 16-and-under division. They won just one of six games, but they still managed to finish fourth in the eight-team tournament.
The Giants started with a 2-0 (25-19, 25-23) loss to the Wolves Volleyball Club from Balgonie, and then suffered a 2-0 (25-16, 25-9) defeat against HVC Green from Saskatoon, and a 2-0 (28-26, 25-23) loss against the HVC White from Saskatoon.
The Giants finished fourth in their pool, and were matched up with the Meadow Lake Heat, the top team in their pool and the No. 2 team in the province, in the quarter-finals. The Giants defeated the Heat 2-1 (25-17, 23-25, 15-6) to advance to the semifinals.
“That match against Meadow Lake exceeded expectations with how we played, and we put one of the best teams in the province in trouble, and ended up beating them out of the tournament,” said Johnson. “That’s the part we want to remember the most.”
The win over the Heat was their best game of the season by a wide margin, he said.
“We passed really well, and we put the other team in trouble with our serves,” said Johnson.
Their next game was a close one, too, but they lost 2-1 (25-11, 21-25, 15-4) against the Wolves Volleyball Club. Johnson was impressed with how they played in that game as well.
And then they dropped a 2-0 (25-21, 25-9) match against the Prince Albert Smashing Bananas in the bronze medal game.
“It was good that we were placed among the top eight in the province,” said Johnson. “We were ranked fifth going in.”
The Estevan Extreme 13-and-under girls’ team went 5-2 in Tier 1 during the tournament and wound up in sixth place. They opened the tournament with four straight wins in the round-robin, and then dropped two of three games in the playoffs.
They played one game on Friday night, a 2-0 (25-18, 25-9) win over the Saskatoon Attack. They rattled off three more wins on Saturday, defeating Regina’s Queen City Volleyball Club Killer B’s 2-1 (23-25, 25-4, 15-4), Kipling’s Wheatland Volleyball Club Roof 2-0 (25-22, 25-16) and Saskatoon’s JCVC Fusion 2-1 (18-25, 25-14 and 25-12).
Their first playoff game was against Saskatoon’s HVC White, which they dropped 2-1 (25-22, 16-25, 12-15). The Extreme recovered to edge Saskatoon’s HVC Green 2-1 (16-25, 25-18, 16-14) in the consolation round semifinal, but fell 2-0 (25-19, 25-18) to Saskatoon’s JCVC Fusion in the fifth place game.
“They did really well,” said coach Sarah Driscoll. “We finished first in our pool.”
She highlighted their round-robin victory against the JCVC Fusion in the round-robin, since the Fusion are a very strong team that did well in tournaments this year.
The Extreme had excellent communication skills on the court, she said. They worked together, made nice plays and have fun during the tournament.
Some of the players are eligible to come back next season, but others will move up to the under-14 team. Driscoll hopes the experience at provincials will help with their development. And she hopes it motivates them to continue playing volleyball in the future.
“It’s a huge experience for them, because they get to see all of the teams,” said Driscoll. “There were 20 teams competing there this weekend.”