Cru­saders head­ing to na­tion­als

PEISAA se­nior AAA girls’ cham­pi­ons com­pet­ing in 18-un­der age cat­e­gory

Journal Pioneer - - SPORTS - BY JA­SON SIM­MONDS Ja­son.sim­monds@jour­nalpioneer.com Twit­ter.com/Jp­sport­s­Ja­son https://www.face­book.com/ ja­son.sim­monds.180

The Kens­ing­ton Cru­saders will play on the na­tional stage. The Cru­saders will com­pete in the 18-Un­der Divi­sion of the Vol­ley­ball Canada na­tional cham­pi­onships in Ed­mon­ton that be­gin this week­end. “This has been a long process to get to this point,” said Cru­saders head coach Richard Younker. “We kind of con­ceived the idea last year, and a lot of the par­ents thought this might be a good idea to go to club na­tion­als. . .

“A lot of work has gone into go­ing, the par­ents have done a tremen­dous job. It’s a lot of money to fly out to Ed­mon­ton with a team and get ac­com­mo­da­tions, and we have a great group of ded­i­cated girls who work hard.

“It will be an awe­some ex­pe­ri­ence for them. Most of them have never played at na­tion­als at this level, and just to get a chance to see the top play­ers in the coun­try will be a tremen­dous op­por­tu­nity. It’s go­ing to be fu­ture Olympians

“It’s such a difference in the venues you play in at na­tion­als. We are used to play­ing in tour­na­ments with maybe two courts, and we are go­ing to a gym where I think there’s go­ing to be 55 courts. It’s a lot dif­fer­ent and we were lucky enough this spring to go to Fredericton to play in a big tour­na­ment that was in a rink on a sport court that all the ma­jor cham­pi­onships are played on. They got a feel for it there, but it is a whole dif­fer­ent ket­tle of fish when you get in a big gym like that. The ball floats dif­fer­ent, the floor is dif­fer­ent, there’s a lot more noise and it’s quite a dif­fer­ent ex­pe­ri­ence for sure.” Cru­saders head coach Richard Younker

and na­tional team play­ers.” The Cru­saders are the same team that won the 2017 P.E.I. School Ath­letic As­so­ci­a­tion Se­nior AAA Girls Vol­ley­ball League cham­pi­onship as the Kens­ing­ton In­ter­me­di­ate-Se­nior High School Torchettes in Novem­ber.

“They are very fa­mil­iar with one an­other, and they do play well to­gether,” said Younker. “That is a big ad­van­tage we will have.”

Be­gin play Sun­day

The Cru­saders, who left early Thurs­day morn­ing, will prac­tise Satur­day be­fore be­gin­ning play in Divi­sion 3 on Sun­day af­ter­noon.

“That is where we should be,” said Younker. “We are a team com­ing from a small school, we are only tak­ing 10 play­ers. The clubs that go to club na­tion­als

draw from thou­sands of ath­letes, and they run try­outs and pick from a lot of dif­fer­ent schools.”

Younker ac­knowl­edged that while it’s tough to set goals not knowing the level of com­pe­ti­tion, he added, “In Divi­sion 3, if we could end up in the top half, that will be pretty good.”

Younker de­scribes the Cru­saders as a good block­ing and at­tack­ing team.

“Those are our two strengths right there, and we can serve re­ally tough,” said Younker. “I be­lieve we will serve maybe as good as any team out there. “As long as we can play good defence and pass the ball we should be able to com­pete for sure.”

Younker, how­ever, did point out play­ing in na­tion­als will be a much dif­fer­ent ex­pe­ri­ence than what the Cru­saders are ac­cus­tomed to. He ex­plained: “It’s such a difference in the venues you play in at na­tion­als. We are used to play­ing in tour­na­ments with maybe two courts, and we are go­ing to a gym where I think there’s go­ing to be 55 courts.

“It’s a lot dif­fer­ent and we were lucky enough this spring to go to Fredericton to play in a big tour­na­ment that was in a rink on a sport court that all the ma­jor cham­pi­onships are played on. They got a feel for it there, but it is a whole dif­fer­ent ket­tle of fish when you get in a big gym like that. The ball floats dif­fer­ent, the floor is dif­fer­ent, there’s a lot more noise and it’s quite a dif­fer­ent ex­pe­ri­ence for sure.”

JA­SON SIM­MONDS/JOUR­NAL PI­O­NEER

El­iz­a­beth Burt, 12, of the Kens­ing­ton Cru­saders’ 18-un­der squad hits the ball dur­ing a re­cent exhibition game against the Red Rock 17-un­der team at Kens­ing­ton In­ter­me­di­ate-Se­nior High School. The Cru­saders be­gin play at the Vol­ley­ball Canada na­tional...

JA­SON SIM­MONDS/JOUR­NAL PI­O­NEER

Maddy Rogers of­fers up a serve for the Kens­ing­ton Cru­saders’ 18-un­der team dur­ing a re­cent exhibition vol­ley­ball match ver­sus the Red Rock 17un­der squad at Kens­ing­ton In­ter­me­di­ate-Se­nior High School.

JA­SON SIM­MONDS/JOUR­NAL PI­O­NEER

Hil­lary MacLean, 4, of the Kens­ing­ton Cru­saders’ 18-un­der club saves the ball dur­ing a re­cent exhibition vol­ley­ball match against the Red Rock 17-un­der team at Kens­ing­ton In­ter­me­di­ate-Se­nior High School.

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