Strong showing at provincials

Katie Brickman
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U16 Panthers finished sixth; U15 are 10th overall

It was a solid weekend for the Element Panthers club volleyball teams.

The U15 Element Panthers team won a silver medal in the tier 2 division at the Sask Volleyball Association club volleyball provincials in Saskatoon over the weekend. The U16 Panthers team finished sixth overall at their provinical meet. Submitted photo

The U16 Panthers finished sixth overall at the Sask Volleyball Association provincial tournament in Saskatoon. The U15 Panthers finished 10th overall in the province.

“We did really well and I was really happy with how the girls played,” said Lewie Bell, head coach for the U16 Panthers.

The U16 team was ranked 20th going in and finished second in their pool. In their crossover, they played against the Lloydminster Rustlers. 

“We upset them in three and that put us into tier 1,” said Bell.

They then played the Saskatoon Huskies in the quarter-final match.

“We went three with them and they ended up beating up in the third set. That put us on the B-side of tier 1. We won our next game, but ended up losing to Western Volleyball Academy of Regina in two (sets),” said Bell. “In that last match, I don’t think we played as well as we did in the rest of the tournament.”

The U15 Panthers also had a successful weekend, winning a silver medal in the tier 2 division.

“The girls played an exceptional weekend and we are very proud of them,” said Joe Gunnis, co-coach of the U15 team with Shaune Gray. “It is always a good thing when you are playing with teams at a high level because you have to raise your own game. They executed a lot of what we have been practising all year and came together as a team.”

The team lost to the QCVC Regina club in the gold medal match in the tier 2 division. “They are a good volleyball team and when we got into the final, it was an emotional game,” said Gunnis. “We did our best and that is all we could ask from the team.”

Both teams will be heading to the Western Canadian national tournament in two weeks. The U16 team will be headed to Calgary from May 17-19.

“It is open, so it will be based on rankings. There will be 100-something teams there and Division 1 will be the top 32 teams in the country and so forth. I think we are going to be put into Division 1 based on our standings at provincials,” stated Bell. “We were in Division 3 last year, so to jump up two divisions is a big jump.”

The tournament is held at the Olympic Oval in Calgary with 26 courts running games at the same time.

“The first time I went, it was just amazing to see it all set up,” said Bell. “Once you get on our own court, it is no different than when we are in Saskatoon. It is so exciting for them.”

As for the U15 Panthers, they will head to Regina the same weekend for their national tournament.

Based on their finish at provincials, they will probably be in Division 2.

“We are looking forward to carrying the momentum that we got from provincials and put that into nationals,” said Gunnis. “I think every time you go out and play, we want our team to progress and get better. We are looking to have a good showing and the competition will be stiff, but we are looking forward to representing Moose Jaw and the Element club very well.”

Follow Katie on Twitter @katiebrickman.

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