Junior high school volleyball teams are patiently awaiting the first big tournament of the season, which will kick off this Friday and Saturday at William D. Cuts Junior High School.
It has been a long time coming for the St. Albert Active Physioworks Annual Junior High Volleyball Classic, as the event was a casualty to COVID-19 last year. Organizers are hoping their preparations are enough to allow every player to compete in a safe environment, which includes the elimination of fans in the bleachers.
Matt Biollo, W.D. Cuts teacher and volleyball co-ordinator for the school, said he is expecting this to be a full tournament with a lengthy list of teams slated to compete.
“We have 16 girls' teams and 16 boys' teams, so it is a full tournament,” said Biollo. “We’ve had to do a couple of switches in and out with some schools concerned with COVID, but we have 10 St. Albert schools involved and then six out-of-city-schools coming in.”
Teams across the community will be able to get at least one league game in before the tournament opens.
“It’s a very competitive tournament,” said Biollo. “It’s a really good starting point of the year to see where your team is at ... you see so much growth over the five or six games they play.
“[The tournament] has been around for a long time and the timing of it is perfect because it is right at the start of the year.”
Kim Knoll will be the coach of the W.D. Cuts girls' team. Knoll said they are motivated after having a year off from the sport due to the pandemic.
“They’ve done really well so far considering we’ve only been at it for a couple of weeks and we’ve only had a couple of exhibition games,” said Knoll. “My girls this year, even after playing the two games, have already talked to me at school about what we need to work on and what we should do at practice.”
Nerves will be a factor when the team takes to the court, Knoll said, but there is also plenty of excitement.
“They’re excited to be back on the court and playing at school, so I think that’s really great," Knoll said.
Kylie Stolk a player on the W.D. Cuts girls' team, said she is grateful they can get back into the thick of things and is hopeful they can compete in a full season.
“I’m just glad we were given the chance to play this year with all that has been happening with COVID,” said Stolk. “Sports are a big part of our lives and the past 18 months without them has been really [tough] for everyone ... hopefully we will be able to keep playing for the rest of the season.”