By Melissa Novacaska
The Maverick Volleyball Club had quite the season this year, with a number of teams finishing off on a high note at the 2019 Volleyball Canada Nationals.
The event took place from May 9 to 14, with the 16U boys Longhorns capturing the national silver medal and the Bulls making the quarterfinals of their tier 1 championship round.
Both teams played and lost against the Canuck Red team, with a 2-0 win for the Alberta team over the Bulls in the quarterfinals and a 2-0 Alberta win over the Longhorns in the tier 1 championship gold round.
Kerry MacLean, Maverick Volleyball Club general manager, club founder, president and part of the coaching team of the 16U boys’ team, said that though losing was “a bit of a difficult pill (to swallow),” and the teams were “very rot afterwards,” the Red teams were the superior teams.
Though both teams didn’t win the top prize, they had an impressive set of matches throughout nationals, as well as their seasons this year.
According to MacLean, the Longhorns won every tier 1 Ontario tournament this year, meaning they won four gold medals in the regular season as well as gold at provincials, on top of the national silver.
The Bulls won three out of four of their tournaments, but coincidentally lost against their club teammates, the Longhorns, in the quarterfinals during provincials.
MacLean said though the teams didn’t win gold at nationals, they played as best as they could, considering they had key players injured right before and during the event. Still, he acknowledged that even the injuries may not have altered the end results, primarily for the Longhorns’ match against the Red.
“They were last year’s national champions at 15U and they’re clearly the team to beat,” MacLean said.
He added that he hopes the losses give his 16U boys “a little ache in their belly.”
“(I’m hoping) they’ll hit the weight room a little harder, work on their basics, because it was our basics that let us down in the match. We didn’t perform some of the most rudimentary skills well and the Canuck team really did,” Maverick’s general manager said.
Given the difficulties coaches of the club had at being able to manipulate their rosters, due to injury, MacLean was pleased overall with how things unfolded.
“When you can win and you’re not playing your best, that shows character,” he said.
Even with the outcome of the tournament, MacLean had positive points to share about the two teams overall.
“It was a tournament that made me very proud of them as a group. They call themselves brothers because unlike other teams in the club, they trained as a group of 20, not as individual teams and when either team was playing and the other wasn’t, that other team was courtside giving their full support to their brothers and so it was amazing,” MacLean said.
What’s unique about these two teams is the fact that this year, the 16U boys are a group of 20, with each teammate getting a chance to play on both squads for the different events they play. This idea came to play after MacLean and other 16U boys coaches after seeing another club juggle their rosters allowing all boys a way to play and potentially increase their skill level.
Though there was skepticism at first, so far the idea has been successful.
“These are our players and we all have their best interest at heart and we [have] an amazing group from the players, the coaches and even the parents really started to jump on board as the success was starting to amount during the season,” MacLean said.
With the success of this year’s 16U boys as well as the other teams in the club, MacLean who wrapped up his 34th year with the Maverick Club, was pleased with his players’ season.
“My heart is swelling every year,” MacLean said.
A number of other Maverick Volleyball teams did well during the year, including the 17U boys Rangers, who won the provincials and made it to the national quarterfinals. The 18U girls won the provincials and the 16U girls also won bronze at provincials. The 12U girls won silver at provincials and the 14U Girls Outlaws reached the tier 2 semi-final round at the Eastern Canadian 14U Volleyball Championships.