Volleyball Victory

Rudy Norman
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A group of women from the area took a casual activity and turned it into a challenge against others like them in the province last weekend.
The women's volleyball group in Baie Verte has been meeting and playing for quite some time. Shauna Hewlett says it's been a way for a group of people to get together for a good time.

Volleyball

"It helps you stay in shape, and do something you enjoy doing," she said. "It's also a great opportunity to get together and spend time with people who have some of the same interests as you, and carry that over to a bit of competition."

Hewlett says the nights the ladies meet have seen some great volleyball action and it was encouraging when they started to see larger and larger turnouts each week.

"We started getting great responses and people started coming out to enjoy the evenings," she said. "Sooner or later, we started realizing that the skill level was starting to improve, and that was really exciting."

Hewlett says the Volleyball group met every week and it wasn't long before the competitive bug had them thinking of moving beyond the gymnasium in Baie Verte.

They began talking about attending the Senior Provincial Volleyball Championships in Central Newfoundland.

"A few of us got together who were interested in going farther," explained Hewlett. "We started practicing on our own, in addition to our regular women's volleyball nights, and really started getting ready for the competition and what we were up against."

The Senior Provincial Volleyball Championships is considered one of the biggest tournaments of its kind in Canada. Well over 100 teams descend on Gander and the Central Newfoundland region every St. Patrick's Day weekend to compete in three categories - A, B and C.

"There are so many teams, you have to pick where you best fit in," says Hewlett. The local ladies entered under the name Baie Verte Body Works, as Bodyworks Fitness sponsored their uniforms.

Since it was their first year competing, they chose C category, which is the least competitive.

"A category is pretty much reserved for the former varsity and current varsity players," explained Hewlett. "They're the top skill leveled teams and have been playing the game for a long time. B category was for the more experienced teams that have maybe been at the tournament before, so given it was our first year, we thought we'd go with C this time around."

Each category is then split up in two Tiers - Tier 1 and Tier 2. The ladies were placed in Division A in Tier 1, with two teams from the Avalon Region - Avalon Spray Foam and Blue on Water.

The action on the first day of the tournament was round robin, to determine which division teams would be placed in the following day for medal competition.

In the round robin play, Body Works were without a full team because of travel confusion with one of their teammates, says Hewlett. They lost both their matches and in the next round of games, were placed in Division 2.

"We didn't have a full team, and I think it took us a while to get into the swing of it," she said.

The 10 teams in Division two then advanced to the medal round. Bodyworks first faced off with an old friend from the day before, Blue on Water.

Now, with a full team, the ladies hoped that the magic would click for them. However, the St. John's-based team was still too much and Bodyworks went down to defeat.

Their next challenge was G-Town, and this time they emerged victorious, winning the match in two games. Afer that there was no stopping them.

In quarterfinals they came out on top against Rank 5, and in the semi-finals they beat Hughes and Brannan of Clarenville. In the finals they once again met their earlier tournament rivals, Blue on Water.

"I guess third time was a charm," says Hewlett. Bodyworks won the championship in three games, clinching the final set 15-11.

Hewlett says the whole experience was great, but walking away with a championship in their division was exciting, considering it was the girls' first year competing as a team.

So what's next for the ladies? Well, there's always next year, says Hewlett.

"Oh we're definitely planning on returning next year," she said. "In fact, the hope is to have enough interested to put in two teams."

Double the teams means double the chances - which could very well mean, double the championships.

Organizations: Baie Verte Body Works

Geographic location: Central Newfoundland, Canada, Gander Newfoundland St. John's

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