Bermuda contingent make mark across varying age groups
The Bermuda Volleyball Association recently sent four teams to the Rhode Island Rumble weekend, in Providence, and made history in the process.
Travelling under the club name Paradise Hitters Volleyball Club for the first time at the tournament, teams were sent to participate in the girls club divisions at under-14 to under-18 age groups.
The total Bermuda contingent amounted 62 people consisting of 39 players and 23 coaches, staff, chaperones and parents.
Both of the under-14 and under-16 teams made it to the bronze medal play-off round, with each finishing the tournament in 17th place out of 24 teams.
“These girls have battled Covid delays, inability to practice together and have several players that are very new to the sport,” said Meagan McPeek-Tyree, head coach of the under-14 team.
“They came together to play at a level above anything they had previously shown. By the end of the tournament, playing against teams who had been training much longer together
“They were positive, driven and want to do so much more; the best experience you could hope for. The opportunity to play away and get this type of experience is invaluable for these young athletes."
Lisa LeBlanc, head coach of the under-16 team was also quick to heap praise on the efforts of her squad in difficult circumstances.
"I cannot be more proud of these athletes,“ she said. ”We have trained hard and stayed dedicated throughout these past two Covid years of hurdles.
“This tournament has transformed these young athletes into becoming even more confident with their skills, understanding the real pace of matches in their age group and in a matter of only 48 hours of play, have no doubt, become much better players.
“It was so rewarding to feel the energy and their determination throughout every set no matter how fierce the competition was.
“The accomplishments both as individuals and as a team is virtually impossible to recreate without this overseas experience and I cannot wait for the next opportunity for these girls and hopefully others will have in the near future."
The under-17 team ended the tournament in eighth place out of 14 teams, before going to be successful in the bronze medal in the play-off round.
"I'm extremely proud of how well the team played over the weekend, they played the best and most consistent volleyball that I have seen from them so far this season,“ said head coach Allison Settle. ”The teamwork and encouragement that they maintained towards each other throughout the tournament is the reason for their success."
It also proved a successful event for the under-18 team who finished third from 20 teams overall. to claim a bronze medal for the entire division.
This is the first time that a Bermuda Volleyball team has made it to the gold medal round at a USA volleyball sanctioned tournament and earned a medal for their efforts.
"I'm tremendously proud of this team, to say the least,“ said head coach Gary LeBlanc. ”Our last USA volleyball tournament was back in March 2020 where we arrived back to Bermuda just before the island went into lockdown and for the last two years, Covid has really put a wrench into our training efforts.
“We have not been able to compete overseas while everyone in the US continued, to a large extent. Just getting to this tournament was a big win.
“This team has a very bright future and we hope to carry on this standard at our next tournament which will be Daytona Beach over the weekend of May 14.”