She­shat­shiu girls vol­ley­ball team suc­cess­ful on and off the court

The Labradorian - - EDITORIAL - BY CORY HURLEY

She­shat­shiu — For the sec­ond year in a row, the She­shat­shiu girls team were voted the class acts of the 3A vol­ley­ball tour­na­ment, but this year they made a run at the ti­tle too.

The seven girls — Meech Mil­ley, Skyler Hurley, Meeka Qu­pee, Laila Andrew, Ua­pukun Mal­leck, Alexis Os­mond and Dasi Obed — went 2-2 in their di­vi­sion to earn a semi-fi­nal berth in the tour­na­ment played at Her­itage Col­le­giate in Leth­bridge. Their dream-like run ended at the hands of the even­tual run­ner­sup River­wood Academy by a 25-20 and 25-16 mar­gin.

“I was not sur­prised,” coach Krista Mon­tague said of her team’s on-court suc­cess, de­spite the im­prove­ment from a win­less pro­vin­cial last year. “They are a strong team.”

The coach said the team went un­de­feated in re­gional play against teams from Labrador City and Happy Val­ley-Goose Bay, and has had much suc­cess in ex­hi­bi­tion play in their area — no mat­ter the age or gen­der of the com­pe­ti­tion.

“They have al­ways had a good team, but this is the best time I have ever seen them play,” she said. “They played re­ally good to­gether.

The team was voted re­cip­i­ents of the team sports­man­ship award, some­thing the coach was equally as proud of.

“They told us our team won by a land­slide,” Mon­tague said. “The girls were re­ally ex­cited about that.”

The coach said it shows the char­ac­ter of the young girls, whom she said came away with a lot of new friends dur­ing the week­end.

“The par­ents, coaches and the refs were all talk­ing about their pos­i­tive at­ti­tudes,” she said. “They sup­ported each other on the court. Even if they messed up, they never got mad. They al­ways backed each other up, and they did it smil­ing all the time. They were amaz­ing.”

The road to the pro­vin­cial tour­na­ment was a par­tic­u­lar dif­fi­cult one for the Labrador en­try. It is al­ways a costly ven­ture for a team from Labrador to travel to the is­land por­tion of the prov­ince, but this team had to make two trips this time around.

The tour­na­ment was sup­posed to be played in De­cem­ber, but was post­poned be­cause of in­clement weather.

The team had al­ready ar­rived in St. John’s prior to the an­nounce­ment, and there was fear that may have ended their chances of even par­tic­i­pat­ing in the re-sched­uled event.

It wasn’t un­til a week be­fore the tour­na­ment that the She­shat­shiu Innu School team se­cured all ar­range­ments to com­pete.

“We were afraid we weren’t go­ing to get the fund­ing to come back the sec­ond time,” Mon­tague said. “We were ner­vous.”

She credits Schools Sports Newfoundland and Labrador for their con­tri­bu­tion to the flights as well as Pro­vin­cial Air­lines for cov­er­ing the cost of three seats. She said, as they al­ways do, the band coun­cil and Innu na­tion stepped up to help pay for ex­penses.

All that ef­fort — along with count­less hours of prac­tice time and ded­i­ca­tion from the coach and play­ers — paid dividends in the end.

Show­ing no ill signs of the travel, they opened the tour­na­ment with a three-set vic­tory over St. James Re­gional High (22-25, 26-24, 15-11), but later on the first day fell to Pasadena Academy in three-sets (25-21, 14-25, 15-6).

They would lose to the even­tual cham­pi­ons Tri­cen­tia Academy (25-9, 25-18) on Day 2 of the tour­na­ment, be­fore earn­ing the cru­cial vic­tory over Ron­calli Cen­tral High in straight sets (25-16, 25-23).

Laila Andrew picked up the team’s in­di­vid­ual sports­man­ship award.

The team is com­prised of four Grade 10s and three Grade 11s, so there is still a lot of up­side for this young group.

“I think, next year, we are go­ing all the way to the fi­nals,” Mon­tague said.

KATHER­INE SIM­MONS PHOTO

Laila Andrew of She­shat­shiu Innu School ranges far to her left to make a bump as team­mate Meeka Qu­pee watches from be­hind dur­ing 3A pro­vin­cial vol­ley­ball ac­tion in Leth­bridge.

KATHER­INE SIM­MONS PHOTO

Ua­pukun Mal­leck of She­shat­shiu Innu School makes the dig while team­mate Laila Andrew watches dur­ing the 3A pro­vin­cial vol­ley­ball tour­na­ment held in Leth­bridge.

KATHER­INE SIM­MONS PHOTO

Meeka Qu­pee of She­shat­shiu Innu School goes up for the hit dur­ing the 3A vol­ley­ball pro­vin­cial tour­na­ment held in Leth­bridge.

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