Sheshatshiu girls volleyball team successful on and off the court
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.
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.
Uapukun Malleck of Sheshatshiu Innu School makes the dig while teammate Laila Andrew watches during the 3A provincial volleyball tournament held in Lethbridge.
Meeka Qupee of Sheshatshiu Innu School goes up for the hit during the 3A volleyball provincial tournament held in Lethbridge.