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Club News Story
 

Premiere Gold in Keswick

2013 / 12 / 19

The Blackjacks 17U girls traveled to Keswick for the first premiere tournament of the season sporting the #2 ranking based on their November 16th Provincial Cup tournament victory.   The group knew they would be facing stiff competition throughout the day with all the top teams in Ontario gathered for this event.

The round robin opened up with a match vs. a familiar foe, the Northumberland Breakers.  The Blackjacks have had mixed results vs. the Breakers this season and were looking to avenge the come from behind loss in last week’s 18U ¼ final.  Playing some strong, steady volleyball, the Blackjacks took the match 2-0 with game scores of 25-13, 25-22.  In the second match of the round robin the Blackjacks dropped a 2-1 decision to the Scorpions. 

The disappointing loss left the team with a 2nd place finish in their pool and a ¼ final match up vs. the DRVC team that the Blackjacks defeated in the 17U East Championship tournament final in November.  These long time friendly rivals always seem to bring out the best in each other and once again produced a tight match in which the Blackjacks earned a 2-0 win with scores of 25-19, 25-21.

In the semi finals, the girls squared off against a perennial powerhouse and defending National Champion, Forrest City.  This was the first meeting of the year between the teams and the Blackjacks looked forward to seeing how they stacked up against one of the best teams in the country. 

Game one was a back and forth affair with both teams producing some impressive plays and fighting for every point.  A late game push saw the Blackjacks pull out a 27-25 win.  Right Side Clare Nishikawa, filling in for the injured Olivia van Baaren, came through with some timely kills and the team’s serving pressure paid off with some late game points to seal the win.   Game 2 of the semi started off with some excellent play by the defending National Champs as the pulled ahead of the Blackjacks 16-10.  Setter Olivia Witteveen helped spark a remarkable comeback as the team played with fire and intensity to pull off a 27-25 win. 

The finals saw the Blackjacks square off with the excellent Aurora Storm squad coached by Canadian Volleyball legend Merv Mosher.  The final was a virtual repeat of the semi final with the Blackjacks continuing to display a fearless attitude and an intense desire to compete for every point.  The team received strong serving from Middles (Callie Giaccone, Elyse Patry and Gabrielle Robert) for the entire tournament and it was once again a big factor in the finals.   With Right Side Clare Nishikawa having pushed her injured ankle to the limits in the ¼’s and semi’s she was forced to take a seat for the finals.   She was replaced by Olivia van Baaren, who fought through her own injury to pick the team up and provide some huge kills in the finals.   Game one saw the Blackjacks prevail in a tight game by the score of 26-24.  In game 2, the Blackjacks once again fell behind, this time by a score of 23-18, only to roar back and claim a thrilling 27-25 win to seal the tournament victory. 

At this level of Volleyball no team has success without excellent play from the players responsible for serve receive and setting.  Left Sides Megan Kuciak and Karine Flamand along with Libero Gabrielle Dunning provided solid, steady service reception for the whole tournament and performed their best during the pressure of the big points at the end of games.  Karine and Megan both attacked with confidence and precision throughout the event, scoring with both front and back row attacks.  Setters Emie Gaboury and Olivia Witteveen did an excellent job of running the offence and distributing quality sets.  Olivia was truly outstanding in chasing down any errant pass to deliver a quality ball to her hitters and winning countless net joust battles. 

This year’s edition of the Blackjacks is still very much a work in progress, but they have already displayed some very positive characteristics with a strong work ethic, defensive tenacity and positive team spirit.  The coaching staff looks forward to seeing just how far this talented team can go. 

Our sister team, the Gold Rush posted an impressive 3-1 tournament record on route to a 5th place finish, including wins over DRVC and last year’s National Champions from Forrest City.   The program established new highs with two teams finishing in the top 5 at a premiere event and we are excited about seeing both teams battle it out with the top teams in Canada in the New Year.  

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