WINNIPEG — Once again, Brandon has the best high school girls volleyball team in Manitoba.
The Neelin Spartans defeated the Mennonite Brethren Collegiate Institute Hawks 3-1 (18-25, 25-12, 25-23, 25-20) to win their first-ever provincial AAAA varsity girls high school volleyball title at Winnipeg’s Duckworth Centre Monday night.
Alison Quiring, a Neelin middle who had 10 kills and six blocks, couldn’t find words to describe her jubilation, but she knows how important the victory is for the school.
"It means that history has been made and we are so happy that we have left our mark on the school," she said. "That banner is going to be hanging in that gym forever."
Spartan setter Amy Gordon got her team rolling in the second set after a slow start. She finished the match with five aces and seven kills.
"I have to win," she said. "I needed to win and I knew that if our team was going to win then somebody had to step it up, and I knew that everybody else was going to follow and it worked."
Gordon was named the tournament’s MVP, while Quiring and Kristine Ward made the tournament all-star team. Paige Thomson was Neelin’s player of the match.
This is the first provincial AAAA girls volleyball title for a Brandon school since the Crocus Plainsmen won back-to-back championships in 2008 and 2009.
Neelin is a AAA-sized school that stepped up to the AAAA division this season, but Spartans head coach Kevin Neufeld played down the significance of that.
"It just means a lot to our kids to have that opportunity to compete at that level, and being the No. 1 team in the province is a real reward for their hard work," he said.