The current Exploits Elite Volleyball Club U15 girls team is fresh off a remarkable season that saw them post a 42-1 win-loss record, and collect five championship banners and eight medals.
Five of the players were also selected to the provincial U15 team, which will represent Newfoundland and Labrador this summer at an Eastern Canadian event in New Brunswick.
The on-court success of the season is not lost on the girls.
“I found the season very competitive, and the highlight for me was all the medal and banners we won,” said middle attacker Leslie Miller.
For setter Alaina King, the highlight was winning three Volleyfest events – VolleyWest, VolleyCentral and VolleyFest St. John’s, the biggest tournament in Atlantic Canada.
“It was awesome to win VolleyFest,” she told the Advertiser. “We were confident going in that we could win that one, because we won it last year too.”
Middle attacker Kamryn Sanger had an exceptionally busy year, having played with the U14 team that fared quite well this season and recently travelled to an Atlantic competition.
All the wins obviously came with a lot of travel. For power attacker Rebecca Goodyear and middle attacker Robyn Butler, travel with teammates and friendships forged are what they consider highlights.
For coach King, this season isn’t a total surprise, but the culmination of years of hard work and dedication.
“This was the plan, to start with these girls in Grade 7 and have them play as a provincial contender each year,” he said. “It usually takes some time for a team to start to gel, and it’s not like we were starting over with a new group each year.”
If such a phenomenal season could have a down side, it would be that one loss – or more precisely, what that one loss meant to their overall plans.
The loss came in the provincial age group playdowns to a Corner Brook team they had beaten three previous times. Despite an impressive overall record during the round robin, that loss left them out of the playoffs due to a point differential formula to determine who plays for the title.
“I would have to consider that a disappointment, but it certainly was still a successful year,” added the coach.
He acknowledged the true team effort to get the squad to this level.
“There have been two or three practices a week, and some of the girls put in a lot of training on their own,” he said. “But without the dedication of the parents, none of this would be possible.”