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Young volleyball squad continues to develop

Saskatoon was the host to this year's U14 Western Volleyball Championships where the hometown McSweeney's Selects team captured a bronze medal in Division Two, Tier Three.
The McSweeney's Select girls volleyball team. Members pictured above include: front row, from left: Bryce Sherring, Riana Skikewich; middle row, from left: Brooke Bielka, Brittany Hudy, Niki Zulyniak, Kristiane Poirier; back row, from left: Carla Skikewich, assistant coach, Shelby Richards, Savannah Vaughn, Jolene Lutz, Emily Plews, Kathryn Goulden, Brent Brown, coach.

Saskatoon was the host to this year's U14 Western Volleyball Championships where the hometown McSweeney's Selects team captured a bronze medal in Division Two, Tier Three. The best young teams from British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba and right here in Saskatchewan, competed in a three-day event.

Inpool play on Friday, the McSweeney's team was nervous and it showed as they lost a crucial game that was easily within their grasp. They then came back with better performances including taking a nail biter of a game of the number one team in their pool 30-28. After all was said and done, they came out on the losing end of the tie-breaking procedure and were placed accordingly. "Savannah Vaughn had and an excellent day at the net with numerous kills and great blocking. Our passing really came alive as well after getting over those first game jitters as this was the biggest stage that the girls have ever been exposed to," said coach Brent Brown.

On Saturday, the girls faced a couple teams from the Calgary Canuck Volleyball club and a young team from Saskatoon and ended up with a two wins and a loss.

It was easy to see the competitive nature of the tournament as it didn't take long and the rivalry was started with this club. Parentsand players from the this club started talking as to how best to attempt to defeat our club using some questionable tactics. "All we told the girls was to play our game and not worry about the off court stuff," says Brown and they did exactly that.

Sunday is playoffs, win the first one and you have a shot at a medal, lose and go home. The girls came out hungry and won their first match over a team from Edmonton quite handily. Their next match was against a team from Regina and here they came out on the losing end as to many mental errors caught up to them.

It was easy to get up for the bronze game though as we were once again facing one of the Calgary teams that we had earlier lost to. "We served very well that last match. We put pressure on them right from the start and kept it up the whole way through. Even after giving up a big lead in the first game, eventually losing that game, we came back with a vengeance in the second and third to take home some hardware.

Key to this game was the passing and setting up our big middle (Jolene Lutz) as they had no one that could block her. No balls hit the floor without everyone on the team giving an effort to get them up. And the girls on the bench, they were key as this was the loudest and most raucous that I have heard them all year," says Brown.

"All in all, it was a great year for the young team that was comprised of girls that fairly new to the sport. I look forward to next year already because we have a lot of raw talent that with a little perseverance and guiding could become very good young players. We have a couple young players thatin the future will be standouts in our area. A great end to the season was seeing all the parents congratulating their kids on the bronze, that's what it is all about," concludes Brown.