One gets the sense that the gold medal showdown between the Northern Chill 16U Blue Vortex girls and the EVP Eagles from Oakville in recent McGregor Cup – Trillim Green E play will not be the last time that these very well-matched adversaries will meet this year.
For the record, the Sudbury girls claimed gold with a hard fought 25-19, 24-26, 15-13 win after the teams that were pitted in the same pool split their round robin games earlier in the day, 22-25, 25-22 – quite fittingly.
The 16U Chill recorded Pool B victories over both the Shockwave Strikers from Toronto (25-10, 25-4) as well as the Unity Fastball from Woodbridge (25-15, 25-22), securing first place in their grouping on the tie-breaker.
The ensuing semi-final encounter would be tough, with the Chill prevailing 25-21, 25-23 over the Markham Revolution Lightning, setting the stage for a rematch with EVP.
"This is a completely new group, but we've really clicked," noted three year club veteran Maya Herst. "We all support each other. We never put each other down, even when someone makes a mistake on the court."
"And we all do our best to make each other laugh when someone is feeling down. I think we're like a big support group."
A middle through the 2022-2023 season, Herst has made the switch to left-side this year, thankful for the hours of guidance that she has received to ease the transition.
"I had to completely change everything when I hit," said the grade 10 student at Lo-Ellen Park Secondary School. "It was a bit of a struggle. I have definitely learned this position way better thanks to Jo Jo (coach Joanna Castonguay)."
"She taught me everything."
After walking away with bronze medals in their last OVA tournament in December, the Blue Vortex crew knew that a step up the podium ranks was clearly achievable.
"We improved mostly our serve receive," said Herst. "We do shank sometimes on serve receive; that's we get broken down. Personally, I've got to get my feet there and stop reaching for the ball."
The locals will be back in action on (Sunday) February 25th as Bugarski Cup play finds the crew travelling to Woodbridge.
The 2023-2024 edition of the Northern Chill 16U Blue Vortex Girls team features Danika Bouffard, Avery Egers, Avery Gauvreau, Maya Herst, Salma Ibrahim, Mara Kahl, Jayda McKee, Rylee Patreau, Andi Sokoloski, Jade Toner, Madisyn Vendetti, head coach Joanna Castonguay, assistant coach Claudette Loranger and team manager Tammy Egers.