Grand Falls – The Fundy Mariners junior varsity girls volleyball team has taken
first place at the South West regional tournament, and will now compete in provincials this weekend.
The Mariners claimed first in the tournament, held at Polyvalente Thomas Albert in Grand Falls, after defeating the host school 2-1 (25-17, 21-25, 15-13).
After splitting 1-1 with PTA, down 13-7 in the third set, the Mariners came from behind to steal the win.
“They did great,” said coach Sylvie Whippie. “It was a slow start [in the beginning of the tournament], but it got better as the day progressed. They played very well.”
The Mariners first met the Hampton Huskies in preliminary play – a team the Mariners have defeated twice in the regular season, but Whippie said the Huskies came to the court determined.
“Normally with Hampton, we did pretty good all season, but [Hampton] played incredibly well; they gave us a bit of a hard time.
“The first match, they were extremely nervous; they had to really buckle down, and focus, and regroup, but after that, things got better.”
Falling 20-25 in the first set to Hampton, the Mariners recovered the next two sets (25-9, 15-11), for a 2-1 victory.
The Mariners later defeated the Woodstock Thunder 2-1 (25-20, 23-25, 15-13), finishing first in the pool, and advancing to the semifinal.
Meeting the Rothesay Redhawks in the semifinal, the Mariners advanced to the final, with a 2-0 victory (25-13, 25-17).
Whippie explained at the beginning of the season, she asked the team to write their goals on a piece of paper. With the common goal of making it to regionals and provincials, Whippie said after struggling in the first set of the first game, the squad realized what needed to be done, to be successful in the tournament.
“In order to qualify, they knew they had to produce. They knew what was at stake, and they knew that we could do this,” Whippie said, noting the recent home tournament win last weekend was a big confidence boost for the team.
Grade 9 setter, Erin Ingalls, said in the early morning game with the Huskies “we didn’t play as strong as we usually do,” citing some nerves plagued the team, but said the team continued to improve throughout the day.
“I think a lot of it was nerves; our coach always says to box it up, and put it in the attic, and forget about it, and I think that’s what we did. I think we just started getting better and better throughout the day.”
Ingalls said heading into the final with PTA, she knew the team was skilled, but credits the strong serving of Allanah Barrio for the opportunity to claw back, and win the final set.
Ingalls said the team fed off the energy of Barrio’s strong serves, and fought back from a 13-7 deficit, to win the final set, and the championship.
Like her coach, Ingalls said the recent home tournament win helped the squad gain necessary confidence.
“In our home tournament, we were playing really well, and it made me realize – I didn’t know how good we were. It made us a lot more confident than before.”
Gearing up to play in provincials, Ingalls said communication is key.
“I hope that we communicate well, and that we don’t let a ball drop on the floor without a body behind it.”
The Mariners are slated to travel to Shediac to Louis J. Robichaud High School this weekend, for provincials.
Whippie said a few girls suffered some injuries during the regional tournament, and said she is waiting to hear if they will play with a full team.
Though the team battled a few injuries during the tournament, the coach praised the team for their focus and drive.
“They played extremely well. They achieved something that is hard at this end, if we go west or north, it’s a little bit different, when you get against strong teams who are better at
serving and receiving, it’s a challenge, but that’s what sports is all about.”
The Mariners are slated to meet their first opponent, James M. Hill, at 5:15 p.m. on Friday.