While the Paulou Ittungna Memorial Volleyball Tournament was happening in Inuvik on Oct. 13-14, there was another big volleyball tournament happening in Fort Smith.
The annual Lawrie Hobart Memorial Volleyball Tournament brought together teams from Fort Smith, Hay River and Yellowknife for a weekend of action and warm-up in preparation for the Spike It! tournaments, which are coming up later this month.
Every community won multiple titles with Princess Alexandra School of Hay River being the big winners of the Grade 6/7 division. The school swept the division and beat Fort Smith’s Joseph Burr Tyrrell School in both instances. The boys final went all three sets but the Panthers managed to hold on to the deciding tiebreak to take the banner home.
Pat Morris coached the boys to victory and said the home team put up a good fight.
“We beat them in the round-robin and you could see them improving all the way through,” he said.
Maybe there was a psychological edge on Princess Alexandra’s part, but if there was, that disappeared as the home team took the opening set to put the visitors behind the proverbial eight-ball.
Morris said the talk between sets was all about calming down and not get distracted by the crowd.
“I spoke to the boys before the game and told them that we probably had the target on our backs because the parents that were there came to see the other team,” he said. “I just told them to keep their composure because I could tell some of them were still nervous, even after the first set, so the goal to try and get them to think about playing in our gym and treat it like phys-ed class.”
The message was received and the boys settled down enough to take the second set and rode that momentum into the third set, which went their way as did the banner.
Getting the boys ready for the tournament was a quick turnaround from soccer as the Elks Outdoor Soccer Tournament the month before took precedence, said Morris.
“We managed to get around seven sessions in before the tournament,” he said. “I’m one of the phys-ed teachers at the school so I plan my units around volleyball and we got in as much practice as we could.”
Diamond Jenness Secondary School got in on the winning themselves as the Grade 8 girls team ended up taking home the banner thanks to a big win over Paul W. Kaeser High School of Fort Smith in that final. Lizzy Reimer’s serving took the team to victory and was named the division’s most valuable player.
“She served up 12 in a row to start the second set,” said Christine Fulthorpe, the team’s head coach. “Everyone was cheering her on and was so supportive.”
Diamond Jenness won the opening set, 25-15, but it was the second set where the visitors began to take control, thanks in large part to Reimer.
“They (Paul W. Kaeser) called a timeout to try and settle themselves down while Lizzy was serving,” said Fulthorpe. “I just told the girls to stay focused and one of our girls said to think about the scoreboard being 0-0.”
Paul W. Kaeser didn’t leave empty-handed as the school ended up winning the U19 boys and Grade 8 boys banners. Yellowknife ended up taking home the other banners up for grabs as Sir John Franklin won both the U15 girls and U19 girls titles while St. Pat’s won the U15 boys crown.