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Trojans win it all at volleyball provincials


Some of the matches may have been closer than they would have wished, but in the end, it did not matter to the Gilbert Plains Trojans girls volleyball team.
The Trojans were one of the teams to beat all season and when it came to provincials, no other team was equal to the task.
Gilbert Plains lost just three games all weekend en route to winning the Manitoba High School Athletic Association’s Provincial A Girls Volleyball Championship in Somerset, Nov. 29 to Dec. 1.
Grace Bonham was named the Player of the Game in the Trojans’ first match, a 25-9 and 25-16 win over the Joseph H. Kerr Tigers of Snow Lake.
Gilbert Plains made it two wins in a row in a tough battle with the Elton Sabres, winning 21-25, 25-21 and 15-11. Mackenzie Zatylny was named Player of the Game.
The Trojans then beat the Erickson Eagles, 25-13 and 25-19, with Jaelyn Frykas earning Player of the Game honours.
Brianna Choma was named Player of the Game when the Trojans completed the round-robin with a 27-25 and 25-22 win over the host Prairie Mountain Predators.
The playoffs began with a 25-18 and 25-18 win over the Boissevain Broncos in the quarterfinals. Gilbert Plains needed three sets to get past the Rosenort Red Hawks, 16-25, 25-22 and 15-13 to advance to the championship match where the laid claim to the provincial title with a 25-23, 23-25 and 15-5 win over Elton.
Erickson beat Rosenort, 25-22, 23-25 and 15-9 to finish third.
Zatylny was named provincials MVP, while Bonham and Frykas were named to the all-star team.
Trojans coach Daniel Lehmann said the girls entered the tournament with a lot of confidence and were prepared for some tough competition.
“I know it’s a tough spot to go in ranked in that number one spot, especially having been ranked that for a couple of months. But the girls knew from the very beginning that you don’t win a banner by being ranked number one in October. It’s about proving that in November,” he said.
“So they were very focused on maintaining that ranking and leaving no doubt that they were number one going into that tournament.”
Lehmann said the team approached each match with a focused, business-like mentality and got the job done.
But it was not as easy as even the coaching staff thought it would be.
“The girls did not play their full 100 per cent until the last day. So there were a couple of closer matches than we would have liked. But the girls did win them all, but in a little more tighter fashion than what we would have wanted to,” he said.
The Trojans experienced some adversity early on in the season. In their first tournament, they played a lot of three-set matches. They also had some tight matches with some AA and AAA schools throughout the year that Lehmann said gave the team some nice pushes.
“So the girls did experience those fights here and there throughout the year. And even if we’d lose them, we’d really talk to them about how those are really big learning experiences to help you build for times when its at provincials,” he said.
In the last couple of weeks of practice leading up to provincials, the Trojans ran through a drill competition called Refuse to Lose.
“The compete level of the girls in that one drill, the close-game scenario in a big game situation, that was the situation during that drill,” Lehmann said.
“Even without being in the provincial final, we made them feel like they’ve been there through practices, where we focus on those kinds of things as much as possible before getting there.”
Being a provincial champion is an awesome feeling, Lehmann said, adding there have been a lot of congratulations coming the team’s way.
“There’s been a lot of just riding a high over the last week. It was so well deserved by the girls. They were all there last year at provincials. They didn’t lose a single girl this year, so we had the exact same team as we had last year,” he said.
“They truly were the team to beat last weekend and I’m glad everything panned out the way it should have. We were the best team there and it ended up like that.”
Gilbert Plains will lose five girls to graduation next season, but there is a solid nucleus of returning players to build around.
The spots where the Trojans are losing players will be filled by returning players that have already molded into those positions.
“So it would not be a step back next year,” Lehmann said.
Choma was voted to the provincial graduating all-star game. The all-star game was played, Saturday in Winnipeg. Lehmann was voted to coach the game Choma played in.
“It’s a very special honour for her, and me, as well, to be recognized on that stage. So much of that comes down to just how good the team was. Individual awards often comes from those team successes,” he said.

Doug Zywina