The Mallaig Stingers volleyball players got to celebrate a gold medal victory not once but twice in their own school gymnasium on Saturday night, as both the Mallaig School senior boys and senior girls team earned top podium placement.
The school’s volleyball tournament featured a total of 12 school teams, six on the boys’ side and six on the girls’ side. In addition to Mallaig, the schools that competed at this tournament, which was held on Friday and Saturday, included F.G. Miller Sr. High School, Glendon School, Ashmont School, Notre Dame School, Dewberry School, Beaux-Lacs School (girls side) and Beausejour School.
Brad Tillapaugh, the athletic director of Mallaig School, told the Journal that the quality of play at this tournament was very high.
“We had some strong teams on both the girls and guys side of the tournament. Overall, I thought the tournament went well.”
He added, “I would like to thank everyone that helped out to make it happen. Parents, volunteers, officials, and staff members made this tournament a success.”
This was the first tournament win of the 2015 season for the Stingers’ girls team.
They had posted solid results at four previous tournaments — their best performance being a bronze medal at a tournament in Bonnyville — but it all came together this weekend.
“It was definitely the strongest and most consistent the team has played this season,” said Ian MacGillivray, the head coach of the team. “We served very well, hit very well, passed really well and played defense really well too.”
The girls made a statement that they would have a very successful weekend by winning four out of five matchups prior to the start of the playoffs. All of those matches required just two sets. Beaux-Lacs was the only school to deal the Mallaig girls a loss.
The loss positioned Mallaig into second place in the standings following pool action. Four teams on each the boys and girls side qualified for the playoffs. In the semi-final, the number one team played the fourth ranked team and the number two team faced off against the number three team.
The Stingers matched up against Notre Dame and managed to handle that team two sets to zero to set up a gold medal match against Beaux-Lacs.
The Bonnyville School gained the upperhand by winning the opening set, but the Stingers rallied to win the next two sets to claim the victory.
MacGillivray, who is coaching senior girls volleyball for the first time this year, but has a long history of coaching boys’ volleyball, says it has been great “to watch the progress the girls have made over the past couple of months.”
This is a young girls team that is made up of eight Grade 10 students, two Grade 11 students and one Grade 12 student.
As it has been the case in many of the tournaments the Stingers’ boys team have participated in, they managed to get on a roll early and ultimately finish undefeated.
This is a team that has been in sync all season long at that strong team chemistry made a difference this past weekend.
Teamwork was the key to our success,” said Tillapaugh. “All the boys came together and operated as one coordinated unit. It was good to see them all playing so well together.”
The boys won all five of their pool action matches in two sets and earned the No.1 ranking in the standings.
Notre Dame School forced the Stingers to face some adversity in the semi-final by forcing the match to three sets — Mallaig won the second and the third — before the home team prevailed.
“It was a close game and we fought hard to come out on top to advance to the finals,” commented Tillapaugh.
Meeting Mallaig in the final was F.G. Miller. The Stingers came out on top in that encounter two sets to zero.
Next up for both the boys and girls teams are participating the St. Paul Athletics Association (SPAA) volleyball championships next Tuesday. Following that, they will participate in zone championships.
The volleyball season ends on the Nov. 26 to 28 weekend with the Alberta Schools’ Athletic Association Volleyball Provincial Championships.