The club volleyball season kicked off in a big way this Saturday in Dawson Creek with two inter-regional tournaments held at the Dawson Creek Secondary school campuses.
Under-14 teams from Dawson Creek, Grande Prairie, Fort St. John and Spirit River faced off at the Middle-Central gym where the South Peace Volleyball Club of Grande Prairie topped the Grande Prairie Velocity in two sets to win that division; while under-16 and under-17 squads from the area took centre-stage at the senior secondary gym.
There, the U-16 Central Peace Volleyball team of Spirit River knocked off the U-16 Velocity in two sets (25-17, 25-22) to end the tournament undefeated.
It was the first taste of action this season for the clubs that compete in the Alberta Volleyball Association (AVA).
In the consolation final, the Fort St. John U-16 Ice downed the Dawson Creek Dynamite U-17’s in two sets to take third place.
For both coaches, the all-day playdown was a good jumping off point as they prepare for the AVA provincials in April.
“We’re pretty happy with the performance today,” said Dynamite’s head coach Steve Oliver. “Volleyball is all in steps, and this is step one toward our provincials in April, so we want to get better from here on out.”
He says the team’s goal this season is to top Spirit River, who is one of the elite clubs in the region.
“Our goal is to try and best them every time we meet them and we’re excited about the opportunity,” said Oliver. “They [Grande Prairie and Spirit River] have a large recruitment area but we do very well for a small little town like this.”
The Dynamite were shortbenched this tournament and went 1-3 in round-robin play with a win coming against the local U-15’s, who challenged the older squads.
“Volleyball’s a very technical sport and the more practice the better, and definitely the volleyball you saw today it was very competitive and we’re excited to start the season,” added Oliver.
The Ice went 2-2 in the round robin, including a come from behind three-set win over the U-17 Dynamite. After dropping the first set 22-25, the Ice won the second 25-21 before clinching the win with a 15-12 third set.
Fort St. John nearly made the finals but fell just short after taking the Velocity to three sets in the semifinals.
“We just wanted to put them on the court and test out their positions and see how they could handle the new dynamic on the court,” said Ice head coach Debbie Mah, who has added two new players to her nine-team roster
“What I like is that it’s a nice, healthy competition amongst ourselves as to what positions they would end up with, or, we can try playing at multiple positions.”
Mah says that at the U-16 level, the girls have learned the fundamentals and their skills are developed to the point where she would like to step up their tactical skills.
“We are getting them thinking more about tactics and strategy versus how to serve, how to pass. Really push them to the next level.”
The first AVA tournament is scheduled for March 9-10 in Edmonton; however, regional play continues next weekend in Fort St. John when the club hosts its annual Icebreaker.