The Elton Sabres are looking to make school history this weekend in Souris.
Elton is hoping to become the first team to win four straight AA varsity girls’ volleyball titles since the Lord Selkirk Royals won five in a row from 1975 to 79. The classification was set up differently back then as the Royals also claimed AAAA titles in the last four of those seasons.
Winning four straight is hard enough, but it would mean even more for Elton coach Jeff Maxwell based on his team’s composition this season. Elton lost its star left side Brooke Huculak to graduation — Huculak is now with the Brandon University Bobcats — and Maxwell hasn’t found a go-to hitter this season. He also has six newcomers to the squad and was expecting it to be a rebuilding year.
“Three was a big deal, but because this one was a rebuilding year with six new players on the team (it would be special),” he said. “For me it would be a big deal just to take the team that started so fresh in September to being champions this year.”
The Sabres have only two Grade 12 students on the team, but neither of them are starters. Instead, Maxwell is starting a lineup entirely made up of Grade 11 students except for libero Courtney Clark, who’s in Grade 10.
Despite their youth, the Sabres come into provincials — which run from today through Saturday — as the third seed, behind Russell’s Major Pratt Trojans and Grunthal’s Green Valley Pirates. The Souris Sabres are the fourth seed, with the Minnedosa Chancellors fifth.
Maxwell pointed out that to have success, his team must control the ball on serve receive and defence so setter Courtney Fines has an opportunity to distribute the ball to any of her teammates for a kill. However, Maxwell also knows the tournament will come down to who’s playing the best during the playoffs.
“The nice thing about volleyball is the round robin sets you up for the playoffs, but it still comes down to the Saturday,” he said. “We’re hoping to get better every game as the round robin goes, so we’re hopefully playing our best volleyball on Saturday.”
Meanwhile, five other championships are running this weekend.
Major Pratt hosts the AA varsity boys’ event in Russell as the top seed, while Elton comes in as the fourth seed and Souris is fifth.
The Dauphin Clippers enter the AAA boys’ provincials, held at Île des Chênes, as the highest Westman seed at third. The Neelin Spartans are ranked fifth. At Lorette, the Clippers enter the AAA girls’ provincials as the top seed.
The Shoal Lake Sharks go into the A girls’ provincials at St. Jean Baptiste as the second seed, followed by the Hamiota Huskies as the third seed, the Glenboro Panthers fourth and the Deloraine Colts sixth. The Reston Tigers are the top Westman team at the A boys’ provincials at Elm Creek. Reston comes into the event seeded second, with the Strathclair Skyhawks third and the McCreary Mavericks fifth. Glenboro is ranked seventh and the Wawanesa Warriors eighth.