High school best friends go head-to-head in provincial volleyball final
By: Lucas Punkari
| Posted: Thursday, May 08, 2014 12:28 pm
During the high school volleyball season, Grade 11 students Mikaelyn Sych and Nikki Ceback are teammates for the George McDougall Mustangs volleyball team.
However, the two friends found themselves on different sides during the Alberta U17 girls provincial volleyball championship in Edmonton on April 27, as Sych’s Calgary Dinos team took on Ceback’s Calgary 403 Selects in the gold-medal game.
“I loved being able to play against one of my best friends in a championship game,” Sych said. “It was a great competition between us, and it didn’t surprise me at all to see her there.”
“We never really get to play against each other that often, so it was a pretty awesome experience for both of us to be in a game like that,” Ceback added. “I think we both went after one another just a little bit harder than we usually do as a result of what was at stake.”
In the end, it was the Dinos that came away with the U17 provincial title, which gave 16-year-old Sych her second straight Alberta club championship in as many seasons.
“This year was a little bit different for us, as we went into the event with a target on our back and people expecting us to win it all,” Sych explained. “We just made sure that we stayed composed and didn’t get ahead of ourselves at all times, and it paid off for us.”
Sych was rewarded for her play following the final, as she received a tournament all-star award.
“It was an honour for me to receive that award,” Sych said. “I was really excited about how I played during the entire weekend, as I was playing very aggressively and excelling at making blocks.”
Even though the 403 Selects team finished up in second place, Ceback was thrilled to come away with a silver medal, as she felt her team played their best volleyball of the season.
“I’m a first-year player with this team, so to see the progress we have made from the very start has been amazing,” Ceback said. “We all have a great chemistry with one another and everything just clicked for us during the weekend.”
“Everyone has a positive attitude, and I think that allows me to play better as a result,” she added.
The George McDougall students will be back in action at the Go Centre in Edmonton May 9 to 11, when the team will be competing in the national U17 championships.
“This will be my first time there, so I’m looking forward to it,” Ceback said. “The biggest thing we have been working on as a team is our team defence, especially when we will be playing teams from Ontario where they are all over six-feet tall and able to just smash the ball down.”
“Our team finished third last year, so everyone on the Dinos has been gearing up to try and win it all this time around,” Sych said. “We’ve really focused on the mental side of the game heading into this year, as we want to make sure that we are prepared for any challenges that come our way against the best teams in Canada.”