Timely title wins for the Eagles and Hawks
by Randy Pascal
The Valley View Eagles and Lo-Ellen Park Knights were certainly not strangers as they entered the crowded and noisy Confederation
Secondary School gymnasium on Wednesday, site of the 2017 Rainbow Elementary Board Girls Volleyball final.
The teams had waged gold medal battles either five or six times already this year, with Lo-Ellen clearly holding the upper hand. Valley View coach
Amanda Poirier and her crew had other ideas in mind in the ultimate test.
Making full use of her entire roster, helping to keep her entire bench engaged in the game, and throwing a little different mix at their rivals, Poirier
Eagles emerged with a 25-16, 24-26, 25-16, 25-16 victory.
"Lo-Ellen likes to tip a lot, so we had to get there and be there and communicate as a team," noted Vlley View attacker Grace Perrier. "We had
to change our rotation many times, just to make sure it worked, and it tokk a lot of tournaments, five or six, to win against them."
"We were nervous, but we knew that they might be a little over-confident, knowing that they had beat us so many times. We used that to our advantage."
Joining Perrier and coach Poirier on the championship winning roster were Erin Wiseman, Chelsea Leduc, Lara El-Darazi, Morgan Tremblay, Macie Savoie,
Hannah Crane, Danika Chenier, Sierra Boyuk and Emily Robidoux.
The timing for the Lively Hawks was equally as opportune in the boys final, with coach John Peacock closing the books on a career with the
elementary volleyball crew that spanned more than two decades.
Riding some of that motivation, the Hawks battled until the end before besting the three time defending champion Northeastern Cougars 23-25, 27-25,
25-20, 21-25, 15-5.
"The best moment was at the end of the game, when Dale (Beausoleil), the other coach, walked up to me and gave me a big hug and told me that he
was just so happy for me," Peacock acknowledged.
"That's what this game today was all about, having both of these teams competing and beating each other up. It was a ball." A gymnasium full of fans on
hand were equally treated, the Lively crew benefitting from the size advantage with which setter Brek Morrow could capitalize, sending the ball in
the direction of Ryan Rubic, Joss Van Den Enden, Ryan Remington and Ethan Scott with a healthy variation.
Noticeably undersized, the Cougars countered with a fine-tuning to the details of the game, displaying an exceptional defensive effort while showcasing
the attack skills of Hayden Radey, their one consistently legitimate threat at the net.
"These guys starting practicing in April," said Peacock. "Every day, they came to me and said, "let's practice, let's practice". They had heart, right
from the get go."
Throw in a healthy dose of natural athleticism, perhaps demonstated most notably through captain Ethan Scott, an accomplished basketball talent when
not on the court drilling kills to the floor.
"I find the jumping parts, spiking and blocking, that's a lot like basketball," he said. "But everything else is pretty different." Given the balanced
depth of the Lively offense, it was important to provide Morrow with some straight-forward keys to determine ball placement, especially in this game.
"We're all good hitters, but it's mostly whoever calls first gets the ball, whoever calls the loudest," noted Scott. "It was really loud in that gym, so
we really needed to call loud. But if he heard you, he set you."
In a contest that went right down to the wire, Scott was quick to praise the challenge his team received from a very determined Northeastern side. "Their
setting was really good, and they have that one hitter, Hayden, he's really good. And they serve tough."
The Lively boys crown was their first since 2013, while the Valley View girls have to go back to the 2005 encounter to find their last gold medal
performance. Rounding out the Lively lineup are Jakson Stos, Owen MacDonald, Connor Heffern, Hugh Campbell and Izac Fjordall.