On Sunday night, the Riverside Rebels 15-U women's volleyball team won a gold medal at their 10-team home tournament, thanks to a nail-biting two-set win in the final against the Battlefords Volleyball Club Xplosion.
It was the Rebels first tournament of the season, as many players had basketball commitments last weekend during the first Sask Cup.
The Rebels finished first in their pool in round robin play and then took down Cudworth in the quarter-final and Meadow Lake in the semifinal, before beating the Xplosion 25-20, 25-23 to win the tournament.
"The weekend went really well," Rebels head coach Vic Stynsky said. "They were two close games [in the final] and both us and BVC were first in our pool. It was nice when you plan a tournament to have the first place teams meet in the final. I think the final came down to passing and being able to attack the ball versus some free ball opportunities."
Stynsky said his team definitely got better as the tournament went on.
"On defence, we moved around the court a lot better...and at the net, we were definitely stronger as the day went on," he said. "During the day, we played very well and then at times we did look a little rusty. When we got to the final, we had six matches in already, so I think the rust was kind of off."
Teams in the tournament came from all over the province, including the towns of Vibank (just east of Regina) and Leroy (south-east of Humboldt).
The tournament went all day long on Sunday, from 9 a.m. until past 9 p.m.
"It was awesome. The gym was packed full of people," Stynsky said. "It was a great experience. It was nice to see a lot of community members come out and cheer us on and watch, so we really appreciate that."
Most of the girls on the Rebels return from last year's team, giving them an experienced core.
Stynsky has been preaching the importance of consistency over the last few years to the team, and he said they have really made that a big strength.
"I try to make sure our girls understand that you play right until the final point and that we take it one point at a time and we never quit until the match is over," Stynsky said. "I think that's...kind of been embedded in their minds and they really believe that."
Like most 15-U volleyball teams, Stynsky noted there is always room for improvement on the attacking front, and the Rebels are no different.
"We would like everyone making stronger approaches so we get stronger attacks," he said. "As you get older here, you can't win free-balling the ball over. You have to get that attacker, that attempted kill to be able to win games and win matches."
This coming weekend, the Rebels are in Meadow Lake for a club tournament, and then they head to Prince Albert for another one on Feb. 25.
"We're looking to get some more court time for all the girls and use those tournaments as a learning experience so we're ready for [our] first Sask Cup," Stynsky said.
The next Sask Cup is March 3 and 4 in Lloydminster, while the last one is set for March 24 and 25 in Saskatoon and Warman.
On Twitter: @NathanKanter11
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