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Estevan Extreme volleyball players win third straight provincial title

Estevan defeated the Saskatoon Huskies Premier club 2-1 (30-32, 25-16, 15-13) in the provincial final.
Members of the Estevan Extreme U15 male volleyball team are, back row, from left, assistant coach Jayden Kuchinka, Chayse Zohner, Adeon Sullivan, Kris Phillips, Broden Henry, Logan Kolenz, head coach Bryton Such and assistant coach Emma Such. Front row, from left, Cameron Milbrandt, Jayden Durr, Aidan Turner and Bennett Walliser.

ESTEVAN - The Estevan Extreme U15 male volleyball team has captured the provincial Sask Volleyball championship, continuing a tradition of success for the members of the team.

The Extreme defeated the Saskatoon Huskies Premier club 2-1 (30-32, 25-16, 15-13) to win the tournament, which was held in Warman from Friday to Sunday. Six of the nine members of the team won the provincial U14 title two years ago, and all nine players were on last year's team that also won the gold medal at the U14 level.

Head coach Bryton Such said the team did a really good job of sticking together and playing as a team throughout the weekend.

"With volleyball, you have six guys on the court, so when they act individually, it can make the sport pretty tough, but I think that our boys did an awesome job of sticking together, trusting each other and doing their job and trusting that their teammates would do theirs," said Such.

"Whether it is the six guys on the court, or whether it's someone coming off the bench and executing, I think everyone did a really good job of sticking together as a team."

Estevan opened the tournament by going 2-1 in the round robin, defeating the Regina Summit 2-1 (22-25, 25-21, 16-14) and the Meadow Lake Heat 2-0 (25-15, 27-25), before falling 2-0 to the Huskies Premier (25-15, 25-17).

In the crossover game, Estevan won 2-0 (25-17, 25-19) over the Lloydminster Rustlers Gold, and they beat the Summit 2-0 (25-15, 25-18) in the semifinal.

Such referred to the final against Saskatoon as a "marathon" and a "nail-biter". Prior to the tournament, they viewed the Huskies as their toughest competition for gold.

"They've got some really good athletes … that I've worked with personally with our provincial team program, the Future Selects, so I knew that they had a good team set up there," said Such. "They've got some really good coaches out there as well, so we knew that it was going to be a challenge."

The Extreme players love being pushed, and they enjoy playing the Huskies Premier.

"It was awesome to come out on top in the final against them," said Such.

The coach believes the team's previous success played a big role in the final.

"These guys have been put in some pretty difficult situations throughout their young volleyball careers, and it's been pretty awesome to see that clutch gene really coming out where they love to be in that tight match. They love to be in those big moments and making big plays."

He said they have been lucky to have players who love sports, and have natural athletic ability and a drive to succeed.

"I think it's a combination of some good supports, as well as having a bunch of athletic boys who love volleyball and are sponges when it comes to taking feedback," said Such.

Prior to provincials, the Extreme won their home tournament and captured top spot in a 16U competition.

Up next for the Extreme will be nationals in Edmonton from May 16-18. Such said they have just a few practices before the tournament, so their focus will be enjoying volleyball.

"Lots of times, when you get to a high level of sports, you take it as a job and it's a business. I think that too many times, people put so much pressure on themselves to execute and forget why you're playing volleyball, and it's because you love it."

The Extreme players have reached a point where they know what they need to do, so there's no point in changing anything with only a few practices to go.