So, the Crush Volleyball Club’s 14U girls squad didn’t win a match at the Volleyball Canada 14U National Championships, but they weren’t expecting to.

The Crush Volleyball Club’s 14U girls outfit made the trip to Ottawa last weekend to compete at the Volleyball Canada 14U National Championships. They are, front row from left, Gracie Brennan, Thea Marzan, Naledi Ndlovu and Rica Salaboro; back row from left, coach Jeannie Mathison, coach Mike Mathison, Hannah Gillingham, Tamara Mathison, Oleta Duru, Andrea Geraghty and coach Gail Christie. photo courtesy of Jeannie Mathison

It was all about the experience and exposure and they did it all with smiles on their faces.

The group of eight girls are home after playing in Ottawa last weekend, their third and final road trip of the season.

Coach Jeannie Mathison said not winning a match wasn’t a shock.

“It was the first national-level event for these girls and you never know what to expect going in,” she said. “Getting exposure for the girls was the big thing because we hadn’t gone to tournaments with this group before this season.”

The team had been to one of Alberta Volleyball’s Premier Tournaments along with the Alberta provincial championships before playing in Ottawa, but it wasn’t the same team each time, said Mathison.

“We had a couple of girls go to all three,” she said. “We talked about what we wanted to get from nationals and the main parts were encouraging participation, having the opportunity to play and having the experience.”

While the girls didn’t win any matches, they did find success in winning some sets, forcing some of their matches to a third set.

They weren’t able to capitalize, though and Mathison said the big reason was serving.

“Some of the teams we played had some really strong servers,” she said. “Our serve-receive was also a big deal, especially in our last match. We were making teams earn most of their points, but in our last match we gave them almost all 50 of their points.”

But there was one award the girls walked away with and it was the one which Mathison was the most proud of.

The girls were named winners of the Fair Play Award, the only girls team of the entire bunch to get it and Mathison said it was a big deal.

“We went in knowing the nerves were there and they were in situations where they weren’t on top in a match,” she said. “No matter what, they were always positive. They interacted so well with everyone and with each other. They never once turned on each other when things weren’t going well and I think that stood out the most.”

The team also made some fans among the other contingents, she added.

“We didn’t know anyone beforehand and all of a sudden, we have people cheering for us,” she said.

The focus now turns to the club’s 16U boys team as they are en route to Toronto for the Volleyball Canada 16U National Championships, which gets underway on Sunday morning.

James McCarthy

I've been hanging around the office as the sports editor for the better part of the last 16 years. In August 2022, NNSL Media decided to promote me to the managing editor's position, which I accepted after...

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