BARRHEAD — The Neerlandia Public Christian School (NPCS) Eagles girls’ volleyball team won their first tournament of the season at the Onoway junior high invitational on Sept. 23-24, defeating Hilltop in a nailbiter of a championship final that went down to the wire.
The NPCS girls got off to a solid start, defeating Kinuso in their first round robin match on Friday that allowed them to put all of their players in the game, said coach Brett Seatter.
Their next round robin match was against Edwin Parr Composite School from Athabasca, which proved to be a much tougher challenge.
“Our girls came out extremely sharp and played a phenomenal game. It was exciting to watch as we had great passing, good setting and our hitters were able to ‘kill’ the ball and get points off the hits,” Seatter said.
“Everyone played in this game and they all did very, very well. We went home that night feeling very confident and happy with our play was coming along.”
A splash of cold water was waiting for Neerlandia on Saturday morning when they went against Hilltop (Whitecourt), who they would again face in the final.
Seatter said they came out a little shaky and lost to Hilltop in two straight sets, though both were very close.
“After the game, I said to the other co-coaches, Char Nanninga and Carlene Schuring, that I couldn’t wait to meet Hilltop again in the finals,” he said.
To get there, however, Neerlandia first had to defeat Barrhead Composite High School (BCHS) in the quarter-finals. Seatter said they had previously watched Barrhead play Four Winds (Morinville) and knew they were a tough opponent.
Seatter said the Eagles were able to stay in control throughout the first set and ultimately won, even though they had to play at their best.
“We mixed up our line-up for the second set and it was a back-and-forth game. Our girls were playing great, but Barrhead was clearly giving us everything they could and we weren’t sure how the game would go,” he added.
When the score reached 21-20 in the second set, Neerlandia called a timeout and tweaked a couple of things, which led them to ultimately winning 30-28 – a pretty rare occurence in volleyball.
“I don’t ever recall being in a volleyball game that went to 30,” Seatter said, adding that Barrhead gave an amazing fight.
The semi-final against Onoway was pretty straightforward and Neerlandia won in two straight sets. That put them up against Hilltop, as Seatter had predicted.
Neerlandia was in control of the first set and won handily, and it seemed as though the second set was also going in their favour.
However, after Hilltop called a couple timeouts, the Whitecourt team came out and gave Neerlandia “everything we could handle,” Seatter said, noting that they had made some adjustments that allowed them to find the holes in Neerlandia’s defence.
While Neerlandia never relinquished the lead, Hilltop was able to tie up the score several times. Once the score reached 25-25, however, one of Neerlandia’s hardest-hitting servers hammered a serve that Hilltop couldn’t handle, and the Eagles ended up winning 27-25.
Nanninga said they have a very talented and athletic girls’ team this year, adding that they are amazing to work with.
“They are good teammates and work as a unit. We’re hoping to have a lot of success this year,” he said, noting their schedule includes six tournaments.
He added that Onoway was a great host, noting that one of their refs complimented their team on being very intense and competitive but also knowing how to have fun.