It can take even the most talented teams a few big losses and low-placed tournament finishes to help them understand the importance of coming together as a team.
Such is story of the Victoria Volleyball Association’s U16 boys who had the pedigree – with some of the core having already won two club provincial championships before – but started slow during the club season this year.
The VVA U16 boys club team are born in 2003 and hail from across Greater Victoria, from Langford to Oak Bay.
The team truly came together at the right time, winning all three games in the tiebreaker to survive Day 1 at the recent club provincials in Abbotsford. On Day 2 they carried the momentum into the playoff round and eventually defeated Vancouver’s Apex Ignite 2-0 to win the gold medal.
They now have that gold medal in hand as they look back at their lessons learned, before looking forward to a top seeding at the upcoming 2019 Volleyball Canada Nationals in Toronto’s Enercare Centre (at the Exhibition grounds), May 12 to 14.
“It really is a talented group of boys who were finding their way since the first tournament when they placed 13th [in Langley],” said coach Jennifer Covelli. “Then they won a Victoria tournament, but soon were in the middle of the pack again.”
Individually, the team is loaded with talent and pedigree, with two players who’ve been together since winning the U13 provincial championship. More came on board to win the U14 championship and now have three provincial titles.
“These guys are the best, but they still had to find the leadership needed of them and have gelled the past two weeks,” Covelli said. “They were working hard to find themselves as a cohesive unit.”
The coach’s own son, Nando Covelli, was the starting setter until he injured his thumb in the first game on Sunday. That meant some shuffling as Cormac Brown stepped up at power and Lucas Maffia (Oak Bay High) was able to shift over to setter, a job he fulfilled seamlessly, the coach said.
All weekend the team adjusted and players did things they don’t usually do,” Covelli said. “They decided ‘Hey, we gotta do it now,’ and came together. On Sunday, they played flawlessly. They couldn’t have executed the skills as technically and as tactfully any better than they did, they were almost perfect.”
The 2019 VVA Black U16 team is Desmond Arthurs (St. Andrew’s), Nando Covelli (Pacific Christian), Cormick Brown (Lambrick Park), Shaun Schonert (Claremont), Aaron Finlay (St. Andrew’s), Lucas Maffia (Oak Bay), Kai Higuchi (Oak Bay), Andrew Simpson (Pacific Christian), Nate Heagle (Vic High) and Carson Schroeder (Mount Doug).