Maidstone High School embraced provincial volleyball with matching t-shirts and prairie hospitality Nov. 26 and 27, as senior boys' 3A teams from as far away as Redvers, 718 kilometres away, competed for medals and the glory.
The road to provincials was also taken by Waldheim, Gravelbourg, Asquith, Wakaw, Leader, Langenburg, Neilburg, Vibank, Kelvington, Nakoda Oyade Education Centre from the Carry the Kettle First Nation and the host team from Maidstone.
Matches were played in the high school gymnasiums in both Maidstone and Lashburn. The event opened with a parade of athletes and words of encouragement, congratulations, welcome and wishes of good sportsmanship from MLA Michael Chisholm, Mayor Connie McCulloch, officials from the Saskatchewan High School Athletics Association and Brennan Becotte, principal of Maidstone High School.
Athletes came ready to play, bringing enthusiasm and height. Over half of the teams had players listed on the roster of 6' 3" with the tallest player in the tournament listed at 6' 5". There were wild hairstyles with almost every player on the Kelvington team sporting a strange shave and gel pattern. The competition was fierce and the tension and excitement was felt by players and coaches, as well as the parents and fans.
Friday, each team played two matches in the round robin and at least one match Saturday in the bracket draw.
The hosts played their first match against the high-ranked Wakaw team. The point gap widened throughout the game with Wakaw beating Maidstone 25-8. In the second set, the Huskies started behind, but took a lead and matched Wakaw point for point for a while with a long, exciting rally and strong fan support. The final score saw Wakaw over Maidstone 25-17.
Maidstone won their second match against Leader and also their first game Saturday against rival Neilburg.
In their second game Saturday, Maidstone faced Wakaw again and after their loss spent the rest of the day as spectators.
At the end of the round robin play Friday Wakaw and Waldheim were undefeated and Kelvington sat with the same amount of points winning both of their matches.
Saturday's games provided the crowd with great serves, hard hits, high jumps and long rallies. The bronze medal match came down to a battle between Langenburg and Redvers. The tension and excitement were high even though Redvers won the match in two sets with scores of 25-15 and 25-17.
Before the final game started the chairs filled with fans from Waldheim and Wakaw. Waldheim's colourful crew filled a corner of the gym and their sidelines and were ready to cheer.
Waldheim won provincials in 2008 and 2009 and was looking for a three-peat. Wakaw's cheering section was a little smaller, but supportive and vocal. The teams were strong and the action was fierce. Wakaw seemed to build a wall with their players at the net, jumping in perfect unison and blocking almost everything. Waldheim fought hard and the gym vibrated with cheers throughout the game and with every point scored by either team. In the end Wakaw won both games 25-19 and walked away with the trophy and gold medals around their necks.