Girls volleyball team up for Canada Games medal objective
TRURO - Nova Scotia's Canada Games girls volleyball team has a tall task ahead of it.
And there's nothing the players would like more.
The team, which includes four players from Truro (Lauren Sears, Ali Beaver, Anastasia Callaghan and Hilary Sears) is out to not only nab a medal at the Games in P.E.I. next week, but it's also out to change the national perception of the sport in our province.
Coach Darren Russell, also from Truro, has no doubt in his mind it will happen. In fact, it's already started.
The team has faced Canada Games squads from Manitoba, Alberta, Quebec, New Brunswick, P.E.I. and Newfoundland and Labrador and at a July tournament in Quebec.
"A lot of the Quebec officials commented on how good we were," Russell said.
"We may be smaller than Quebec but we're more skilled and Quebec is one of the top teams."
Nova Scotia has never finished better than seventh at Canada Games, but Russell, who coaches the Saint Mary's Huskies, said this year's edition of the squad is capable of meeting its goal of standing on the podium.
"This is one of the best teams I've had the opportunity to coach both on and off the court," he said. "Besides being great players they are really good people and they go hard. They'll go through the wall to get what they want."
On paper, the team is one of the best the province has ever assembled, and that's without national team member and Shubenacadie resident Kerri Smit, who was forced to pull out of the Games with a shoulder injury.
Sometimes all-star squads don't work; the best of the best can't work together. But that's not the case with this group.
"I think we're all really good friends,"
said Callaghan, a 17-year-old libero with the squad.
The team has been playing together for the past two years in several tournaments, including a high-performance international tournament in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. They have played with, and against, each other for their entire playing careers and that chemistry and familiarity will be key at the Games.
"It's essential in a team sport, especially volleyball," said Lauren Sears, a 20-year-old middle with the University of Manitoba Wesmen. "You have six players on a small court so you have to communicate and know where everyone is at."
"Especially at this level," Callaghan added. "Every team is good so it's going to come down to who communicates the best and who has the best team chemistry."
Like his players, Russell knows communication and chemistry are key, and knows his team has plenty of both, thanks to their playing experience with each other.
"These girls really help and encourage each other both on and off the floor," he said. "They are all leaders on their teams."
That has the group confident it can meet both of its goals.
"I think we have the opportunity to medal," Russell said. "I think we can surprise teams like Ontario and B.C."