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Regional and FG Miller take home SPAA banners

The St. Paul Regional High School girls nearly pulled off an upset at SPAA, but the team from FG Miller would take home this year's banner. On the boys' side, the St. Paul team beat Two Hills to win the SPAA banner.

ST. PAUL - After a full day of competition on the volleyball court Thursday, it would be the boys from St. Paul Regional High School and the girls from Elk Point's FG Miller who would claim this year's St. Paul Athletics Association (SPAA) banners.

The SPAA championship tournament was originally set to take place on Wednesday, but due to poor road conditions and school buses not running, the event was rescheduled for Nov. 18.

Heading into the tournament, the SPRHS boys were sitting in first place after league play wrapped up, followed by Two Hills School, and Mallaig in third. 

On the girls' side, Two Hills went into the tournament as the team to beat, with FG Miller in second, and Mallaig in third.

On Thursday, the SPRHS boys finished first in their pool, beating Glendon, Tus-Tuk-EE-SKAWS (Frog Lake), and Myrnam.

The St. Paul team took on Mallaig School in the semi-final, and "it was a classic Regional versus Mallaig match-up," said St. Paul coach Brandon Strocki. "We knew we’d have to play them in either the semi or the final, and we were prepared for a tough battle."

In the first set, St. Paul got out to a bit of a early lead, but Mallaig battled back hard on some aggressive serving and took a one-point lead late in the set.

"My guys fought to push the set beyond 25 points and had three set point opportunities that Mallaig tied up. Eventually, we were able to push through and win 27-25," explained Strocki. In the second set, both teams played tight back and forth, with very little runs to get ahead, but St. Paul would pull out the win, 25-22.

"Mallaig gave us everything we could handle. That team and coaching staff should be proud of how they’re team competed," said Strocki, adding, "I’m proud of my guys and their ability to find a way to win when facing some adversity. It was big win for my young guys."

In the final, the SPRHS Saints came up against the team from Two Hills, winning in two straight sets.

"Two Hills has been a really good team all year, and we didn’t take them lightly," said Strocki. "We went on a few big runs in both sets with serving and solid defence that allowed us to push ahead and never really look back."

Two Hills is hosting 1A boys' volleyball zones over the weekend.

As a 3A school, the St. Paul team made the trip north to Fort McMurray to compete at zones. The host school, École McTavish, was ranked first in the zone. On Friday, Strocki said the weekend should feature some exciting volleyball.

Girls

The SPRHS girls volleyball team nearly pulled off a huge upset at this year's SPAA championship, coming in fourth after regular league play, and making it all the way to the finals on Thursday.

"We came second in our pool as we lost to Two Hills in round robin (play), and we beat Glendon and New Myrnam," says SPRHS coach Hank Smid. St. Paul then took on Mallaig School, who had placed first in their pool.

"We beat them them in three sets 18-25, 25-21, 15-3 to advance to the finals." 

FG Miller (Elk Point) beat Two Hills in three sets to advance to the final as well. 

The St. Paul team would lose to the Elk Point girls after a hard fought battle, 25-22, 17-25 and 9-15, and FG Miller would take home this year's SPAA banner.

Although it was a long day on the court, FG Miller coach Tim Haviland says it was a good day for the Elk Point girls' team. 

The team went into the tournament ranked second, but experienced plenty of ups and downs throughout the tournament. The main reason for the team's success? "Resilience."

The girls went into playoffs having just played one of their worst games of the season. But, they battled back and played one of their best against the top team in the league, Two Hills School, and the girls went into the final game on a high.

While it was tough to keep the momentum going, and the Elk Point team lost the first set to the St. Paul girls, they once again dug deep.

“They were focused and they were doing what they needed to do to be successful," says Haviland, speaking to the team's second and third set, which resulted in ultimately winning the banner.

With little rest, the team was off to Lac La Biche on Friday for their first two games of 1A zones.

“I’m just so proud of the girls," said Haviland.

Smid echoed those sentiments.

"For many of our players, they have never played high school volleyball prior to our this season. We are very pleased with how our team performed and how close we were to causing an upset in the SPAA final," said the SPRHS coach.

 



Janice Huser

About the Author: Janice Huser

Janice Huser has been with the St. Paul Journal since 2006. She is a graduate of the SAIT print media journalism program, is originally from St. Paul and has a passion for photography.
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