A northern flavour prevailed in Barrie last month, site of the 13U Girls McGregor Cup - Championship B tournament, as Vision Volleyball from North Bay downed the Northern Chill Smashers 25-16, 25-14 in the final.
"Two northern teams making it to the finals of a Championship tournament is good, not only to promote the sport, up north, but to help us build from a regional aspect," said Chill head coach Guy Perreault. "North Bay and us are pretty equal teams."
The Chill showed signs of podium potential, right from the start of the day, capturing their pool comfortably with victories over both the Barrie Elites Rockets (25-17, 25-12) and the Georgian Cubs Major (25-21, 25-22), also from Barrie.
And where the Sudbury crew dropped a three-set Q-F heart-breaker in their last tournament in December, there was no such misstep in 2020, the Chill taking down the Scarborough Synergy TNT, 22-25, 25-22, 15-13.
"With our girls, we have to be aware of nerves," said coach Perreault. "When they get to those games, sometimes the nerves take over. This time, in the quarter-finals, the assistant coach, Cindy (Seguin) focused on having them relax and have fun."
"There was a bit of silliness, everyone relaxed, and from there, it just took off. It was a bit of a different way of approaching it."
Different, perhaps - but successful.
Through to the final four, the local 13U squad swept aside the Markham Unity Warriors, 25-21, 25-16. "Emma Perreault probably had her best tournament of the season," noted her father. "She had some amazing saves in our quarter-final match. Without those key moments, I don't think we would have moved on."
And despite battling a bout of illness, Kaylee Seguin also came through in the clutch. "You couldn't even tell that she was sick," said Perreault. "She started slow in the day, but once that adrenaline starts going, she finished really hard."
The balance of the 2019-2020 edition of the Chill 13U Smashers includes Abby Laurin, Olivia Nicholls, Reece Crane, Alyssa Banks, Andrea Bernard, Anna Houle, Kahlan Bellaire and Payton Vendetti.