Teams from the Exploits Valley had a great showing at the annual Newfoundland and Labrador Volleyball Association’s Volleywest tournament.
The competition, which took place last weekend in Corner Brook, saw six teams from the Exploits Valley compete over four categories against other teams from the central and western areas of the province.
The schools that participated in the tournament included a junior and senior team from Leo Burke Academy (LBA) in Bishop’s Falls, two junior teams from Exploits Valley Intermediate (EVI) in Grand Falls-Windsor, and two senior teams from Exploits Valley High (EVH) in Grand Falls-Windsor.
The tier one senior division saw LBA face off against a team from EVH, with EVH taking the gold and LBA landing a silver. In tier two of the junior division, the EVI B team surprised themselves when they managed to take the gold medal.
According to EVI coach Shaunette Skinner, the B team was only put together in September after the A team had already been picked, and there were enough girls left over that wanted to play to form their own team. She said this is the first year EVI has had a B team, and that last weekend was the group’s first tournament as a team.
“The girls were not expecting to go as far as they did,” Skinner told the Advertiser. “As coaches, we were basically looking at things like team spirit, getting along with one another, and team building. After just getting together two weeks ago…you don’t expect much going into the first tournament.”
Skinner said it was the girls’ teamwork and communication coupled with the adrenaline and excitement of winning their early games that propelled them to reach for the gold.
“The girls were a bit nervous starting out, obviously going to their first tournament but after getting into a few matches everything just came together with the whole team. It was just really exciting to watch,” said Skinner. “They really wanted it – the girls put all their effort into it and it paid off.”
She said the teams’ energy going into the semifinal made everything come together smoothly. In the tier two junior final, the EVI team, made up of all Grade 7s and 8s, took on a Corner Brook Grade 8 team and defeated them in two sets.
“It was really exciting, I would say some of them now at school today still aren’t even calmed down,” she said with a laugh.
Skinner said the team was extremely ecstatic with their gold medal win, and will hopefully take that energy to their upcoming tournaments, like VolleyFest which takes place at the end of October
“We’re taking it one step at a time, but this past weekend was just a big boost for all of them,” said Skinner. “One of the girls even made a comment that even if they don’t win another gold this year it was still really rewarding to have won that tournament this past weekend. But the main thing is that we go out, have fun, and play as a team.”
Craig Hoskins is the coach of the EVH team that took gold in the tier one senior division.
He said he was pleased with his team’s showing at VolleyWest for a number of reasons.
Hoskins told the Advertiser he had many comments from officials and volunteers about the exceptional sportsmanship showed by his team, which is something he said they take pride in.
Hoskins also said his team went in to the tournament with fairly high expectations.
“This year many people in the volleyball community are viewing us as the team to beat this year, and we went in with pretty high expectations for this tournament,” he said. “So it was good that we came through when we were supposed to.”
According to Hoskins, his team was very close to winning the 4A provincial tournament last year. This year, he said, his girls have their eye on the prize.
VolleyWest, Hoskins said, was a good opportunity for the team to see how they stacked up against western schools.
“VolleyFest is coming up (at the end of October), and we’re the farthest west school that is going to be at the tournament,” he said. “So we’ll get to see how we match up against everyone from the east coast.”