Saints win home tourney
Caitlyn Dyck serves a ball during the Pride of the Prairies tournament held at PCI over the weekend. The Saints swept John Taylor 2-0 in the finals. (Jordan Maxwell/Portage Daily Graphic)
Talk about defending home turf.
The Portage Collegiate Institute Saints varsity volleyball team went undefeated at its home Pride of the Prairies tournament at PCI over the weekend.
The Saints downed the John Taylor Pipers 25-22 and 25-17 in the finals to take gold.
Head coach Rob Gamache said the team took a little bit to find its footing, but once it found solid ground, was able to get on a roll.
"There was definitely some up and downs, especially on Friday, but on Saturday, the girls really beard down and came to play," said Gamache. "We had to play really well in all three of those playoff games."
The Saints had beaten the Stonewall Rams in the semi en route to the finals, and escaped by the skin of their teeth.
"We knew Stonewall was going to wake up eventually," said Gamache. "We knew in that first set that we caught them a little bit unexpected. We did the same thing in league when we played them.
"Lucky for us, maybe they woke up a little too late in this one. They almost came back and got us."
In the final, Gamache credited the Saints with never letting the Pipers get a chance to get in the game.
"We were keeping our energy level high," said Gamache. "We're a team that plays well when we're playing with a high level of energy and intensity. As soon as we sometimes take the foot off the gas, things start to go south for us pretty quickly.
"We're really focused on keeping our foot on the gas and keeping our energy high."
That aspect was of particular interest to Gamache, as he's been looking for consistent efforts like that all season.
"We need to be a little bit more level — we were sometimes playing excellent volleyball and then have a subpar effort — kind of like a Jekyll and Hyde syndrome," said Gamache. "We figured if we could keep our energy level high, then our play should remain fairly consistent.
"For the most part this weekend, that's what happened. To come out with a victory at our home tournament, it's a nice feeling and the girls deserve it."
The win is welcome, as the Saints hope to ride the wave heading into the resumption of West Winnipeg Athletic Conference play Wednesday at St. James against the Jimmies.
"Confidence-wise, it should help us," said Gamache. "Going forward, we know that when we're playing the type of volleyball that we're capable of playing, there aren't too many teams around that can beat us.
"That should help our confidence. We've definitely got some tougher matches ahead, especially at the Westwood tournament next weekend."
The Saints had some good news, as Caitlyn Dyck returned to the lineup to help bolster the roster
"It allows us to put some people back to other spots where they're probably more comfortable," said Gamache. "So have Dyckey swinging middle again, it was good.
"It allows us to toss people into more of their strengths."
Alyssa Moman, who hasn't played at all this season, is likely another week away from returning to the lineup.
-with files from Jordan Maxwell