It was an exciting weekend for volleyball fans in Harbour Breton as King Academy and St. Joseph's Elementary hosted the 26th annual Invitational Volleyball Tournament during October 19 and 20.
Fourteen teams participated in tournament action that clearly demonstrated that students in the Coast of Bays are definitely improving their volleyball skills.
In addition to the King Academy teams, boys' and girl's teams from John Watkins Academy, Hermitage-Sandyville; Bay d'Espoir Academy, Milltown-Head of Bay d'Espoir; St. Anne's, Conne River; Fitzgerald Academy, English Harbour West; Gill Memorial, Musgrave Harbour and Lakewood, Academy, Glenwood saw action in the fast-paced event that was sponsored by Home Hardware.
Getting to the finals of the boys' division proved to be tougher going in 2012 than in previous school years, as a number of teams have worked hard to improve their game.
The top four boys' teams following round robin play were the King Academy Warriors, the Gill Memorial Vikings, the Bay d'Espoir Academy Predators and the St. Anne's Eagles.
The Eagles played hard against the Warriors but the King boys, having won all their matches going into semi-final play, were on their game and they grounded the Eagles by scores of 25 to 6 and 25 to 12.
The second semi-final game was very different as the Gill Memorial Vikings played off against the Predators from Bay d'Espoir Academy.
It was clearly evident that the Predators have vastly improved their volleyball game over the past few school years as they played the Vikings really tough.
All three games in this match were extremely close and the win could have gone to either team.
The Vikings hung on to win the first game 25 to 22. The Predators were not intimidated however and won the second game 25 to 21.
The third game was close all the way through but in the end the Vikings held off the Predators by the close score of 15 to 12.
The final match in the boys' division came down to a contest between the only two undefeated teams of the day - the Warriors and the Vikings.
The Warriors played a strong offensive and defensive game in round one and won 25 to 12. The Vikings played hard to take the second game in the match but in the end the Warriors were too strong and they won the game and the gold medal on the strength of a 25 to 14 score.
Blair Haan, the Vikings' coach said, “We had a really good tournament. We had never played the Vikings, and I think the boys were a little intimidated. However, I think we can compete with them and even beat them in the future.
"We're looking forward to the qualifying round now and hopefully we can make it to the 2A boys' volleyball provincial tournament."
The Warriors' coach, Nish Hynes, said, "This team has been working as a unit for a number of school years and it all came together this weekend. This year, too, Jamie Hunt and Leo Augot have helped us a lot and that work has improved the team. We're hosting a 2A qualifying round in mid-November and we'll be playing hard to win an opportunity to attend the provincials."
In the girls' semi-final round, the John Watkins Rebels defeated Lakewood Academy 25 to17 and 17 to 15 while the Gill Memorial Vikings triumphed over the King Academy Warriors.
The girls' final was probably the best match of the entire tournament as both teams were determined to won the gold medal.
The Vikings got off to an early start in game one and were leading at one point 9 to 4. However, the Rebels hung in and kept the game close with their strong returns and fantastic saves in several rallies. However, the Vikings hung on to win 25 to 21.
Volleyball is a game of momentum, which can shift from one game to another, and the Rebels, who had a good cause in game two, got out to an early start. They went ahead 10 to 3 and seemed to be on their way to a quick victory.
However, the Vikings were not about to give up easily and they slowly but surely inched back in the game.
With the score 24 to 22 the Vikings seemed poised for a comeback but thanks to a strong defensive play by Jade Ryan the Rebels pulled out a 25 to 22 win for the Rebels.
The question now was which team would show up in the third game of the match.
The Rebels again went ahead quickly and were leading early in the contest. However, the Vikings were on their best game now and slowly gained momentum. They tied the scored and went ahead only to see the Rebels tie and go ahead again.
However, the match, which could have gone to either team, was claimed by the Vikings with their 15 to 11 win.
The co-captains of the Vikings, Leah Whiteway and Hillary Hicks, said that the Vikings had a great weekend in Harbour Breton.
"The Rebels played us tough," Leah said, "but we are a proud team and we dug deep to come back in the third game. We're attending VolleyFest in St. John's next weekend and we're looking forward to the 2A qualifying round which, hopefully, will propel us to the provincials."
Marilyn Barnes, the Rebels' coach, said, "The girls played really well during the tournament. We will take the lessons we learned here and use them to help us in the 2A qualifying round which we will be hosting on November 2."