Trio of Amherstburg girls part of national championship volleyball team

 

The South County  16U team  celebrates at the Eastern Canadian Volleyball Championship in Sherbrooke, Quebec. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)

The South County
16U team celebrates at the Eastern Canadian Volleyball Championship in Sherbrooke, Quebec. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)

Madison Trotter, who attends St. Thomas of Villanova Secondary School, holds her All-Canadian plaque and wears her medal.

Madison Trotter, who attends St. Thomas of Villanova Secondary School, holds her All-Canadian plaque and wears her medal.

Bailey Rigney and Sydney Emerson of General Amherst hold the banner and gold ball symbolic of the 16U championship their South County volleyball team captured recently.

Bailey Rigney and Sydney Emerson of General Amherst hold the banner and gold ball symbolic of the 16U championship their South County volleyball team captured recently.

By Ron Giofu

 

The South County 16U girls volleyball team made history recently by winning a major championship with three of those players being from Amherstburg.

Bailey Rigney and Sydney Emerson of General Amherst High School and Madison Trotter of St. Thomas of Villanova Secondary School were part of the 16U Eastern Canadian Volleyball Championship team that won the tournament in Sherbrooke, Quebec. The team is coached by General Amherst head coach Jeff Miller and Amherstburg resident Alex Nedin. Miller pointed out this is the first Volleyball Canada title for a Windsor-Essex County team at the Division 1, Tier 1 (overall champion) level.

South County finished the tournament with an 8-1 record. They defeated the Aigles (Montreal) in the quarterfinals 2-0 (25-17, 25-12), L’Impact CDSL (Quebec) in the semi-final 2-1 (23-25, 25-22, 15-12) and the Scarborough Titans in the gold medal match 2-1 (26-24, 16-25, 15-11).

Rigney said it “feels pretty amazing” to be part of the gold medal winning team.

“It’s pretty much a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” said Rigney. “To be part of something like this is pretty special.”

Emerson agreed, believing it was one of the bigger sporting accomplishments she had achieved.

Going into the tournament, Rigney said the team believed they could win the title. As the tournament progressed, she said they played better as a unit.

The girls had practises together twice per week since October and said it was fulfilling to capitalize their season with a championship. Emerson said she believed she improved as a player as the season went on as did the team as a whole.

Trotter was named to the All-Canadian tournament team for her outstanding play. She said it feels “really good” to be part of the championship team.

“We knew we were going to do fairly well,” she said. “We knew if we were going to win, we’d have to play our best. We played our best and finished where we wanted to.”

Trotter said when she joined the team, she knew it was a good one and one of the better volleyball teams she has played on.

“We’ve gotten to know each other. They are all pretty special,” she said of her teammates.

Trotter said she has finished third with a regional team and fourth at the International Children’s Games but “this is the biggest accomplishment I’ve had.” The Grade 10 student said she has been playing volleyball since she was six-years-old and that her father, who is now a volleyball referee helped introduce her and her younger sister Meaghan to the sport.

Once she started playing, Trotter added “I just fell in love with the sport.”

Miller said success in tournaments that size are not only about good play but also about match-ups and the draw itself. A loss in pool play on the second day of the tournament actually worked out in South County’s favour, he said, as it gave them better match-ups going forward.

“We were better off losing Day 2 than winning,” he said.

Entering the national tournament, South County was seeded 19th out of 32 teams. Miller believed the team had a chance of at least making the quarterfinals.

“We just kept getting better and better as the tournament went on,” he said.

The group hadn’t won anything before, he added, and keeping them confident was something the coaches had to keep doing.

“It’s important to get them to believe they could beat the teams they were playing,” said Miller.

In the finals against Scarborough, Miller said they were down 24-19 in the first set but rattled off seven points in a row to win it.

“We had everything going our way, that’s for sure,” he said. “It was a magical tournament.”

Miller believes volleyball is a growing sport in this area. South County is in its 15th year and not only saw the 16U team win this year, the 14U team made it to the national finals before losing in a tiebreaker.

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