Vincent Massey’s Tristan Neudorf (centre) slams the ball at Neelin’s Alison Quiring (left) and Amy Gordon during the Top 8 Debate varsity girls volleyball tournament, Saturday afternoon.
(COLIN CORNEAU/BRANDON SUN)
It didn’t take long for the Vincent Massey Vikings to put their first Top 8 Debate varsity girls high school volleyball championship since 2003 behind them.
A few minutes after the Vikings beat the Miles Macdonell Buckeyes 2-1 (25-17, 17-25, 15-13) in Saturday night’s final at the Crocus Plains gymnasium, the players were already thinking of what they needed to improve on for their next tournament.
"It was a good start to the season," said left side Jill Giesbrecht, who had eight kills, 12 digs and two blocks in the final. "We played well as a team but we have a long way to go. Being number one for now is good, but it's what happens at the end of the season that matters. We have to keep pushing as a team and sacrificing ourselves."
The Vikings took a very long path to the championship match. They finished second in their pool after winning four of their six preliminary-round sets and needed three sets to get past the Glenlawn Lions and the Westwood Warriors to advance to a semifinal matchup with the Neelin Spartans.
The Vikings dropped the opening set of the semifinal 25-13 and fell behind 24-17 in the second set, before fighting back to take it 31-29 and the third set 15-13.
Giesbrecht and Carmen Hutsal both had strong finals as Massey dominated the first set and hung on to win the third. Hutsal finished with nine kills, one block and three digs.
"I felt our attack was really balanced," Vikings head coach Greg Beckwith said. "Our corner hitters saw a larger volume of the sets, but between the three corner hitters, the attack was pretty balanced and they were all fantastic for us."
By winning the first tournament of the year, the Vikings now have the inside track to becoming the No. 1 seed in the first AAAA provincial rankings, which puts a target on their back. That, however, doesn’t bother them.
"We kind of feel like we had one before because we were one of the top teams from last year," Giesbrecht said. "We want to keep working hard throughout the entire season and if we have a target on our back, then that just makes us want to work harder."
Meanwhile, the Spartans finished third after beating the Garden Valley Zodiacs 2-0 (25-11, 25-10) in the bronze-medal match.
Neelin head coach Kevin Neufeld thought there were a lot of positives from the tournament, but was disappointed with his team’s final standing.
"When you come to win, third place is not what you're trying to achieve," said Neufeld, whose team has moved up from AAA to AAAA this season. "But it was a good experience for us. In the semifinal, Massey played much better than us in Sets 2 and 3. We won Set 1 pretty comfortably, but sometimes that doesn't matter. It was a good test for us and we performed well, but we have to be better in those big times."
The host Crocus Plainsmen fell in the consolation semifinals.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition September 17, 2012