The Mine Centre girls’ grade eight volleyball team won its second-straight tournament Saturday, downing Atikokan 15-8, 10-15, and 15-6 to capture the first-annual Gilson Classic at St. Francis School here.
Mine Centre finished first in the round-robin to earn a bye into the final. Meanwhile, Atikokan swept St. Francis in the semi-final 15-13 and 15-12 to secure the other berth.
Mine Centre coach Brian Love said his team rose to the challenge against the much taller Atikokan squad, noting their experience and determined play more than made up for what they lacked in size.
“They were a bigger, stronger team that was well coached but we have some girls who already have three years of experience of playing grade eight [volleyball],” he noted. “Our girls are very competitive and they worked real hard.”
Love said they came up with precise setting while using both their 4-2 and 6-2 offences. Setters Kelly Kabatay and Carmen Jones continually fed power hitter Melanie Jones on the strong side, he noted.
“Our hitting and setting was exceptional—our hitters were right on in the final when they had to be,” added Love, whose team will be back on the court tomorrow in Kenora for another tournament.
Then they will be preparing for the regional championship against the top elementary squads in the district Nov. 28 at Red Gut Bay.
Meanwhile, in boys’ action at Robert Moore School here, Thomas Aquinas (Kenora), which had finished first in the round-robin at 7-1, overcame an opening game loss to knock off St. Francis in the best-of-three final.
After dropping the first game 15-8, Thomas Aquinas fought back and won the last two by scores of 15-11 and 15-10.
St. Francis, which finished second after the round-robin at 6-2, advanced to the final with a 15-10 and 15-12 victory over Atikokan in the semi-final. Coach Ron Fryer said his team had improved markedly compared to their first tournament in Atikokan the week before.
“The boys were really up for [the final]. They worked hard in the week of practice,” said the second-year head coach, who’s being assisted this year by Muskie senior volleyballer John Sivonen.
“We drastically improved our serving and all the hard work seemed to pay off,” Fryer noted. “Our serving was up to 75 or 80 percent, and our teamwork and sportsmanship improved.”