GRAND FALLS-WINDSOR, NL – The Black Sheep outlasted 26 other teams to capture the fourth annual Michelob Ultra Open Volleyball Tournament over the weekend in Grand Falls-Windsor.
The St. John’s based squad took down George’s Ski World in straight sets in Saturday evening’s Tier 1 women’s final at Exploits Valley Intermediate 25-19, 25-21.
It was the first time the Black Sheep competed in this event, and team member Katie Moores said in a field of such high-caliber female teams, it felt great to walk away with the tournament crown.
“We came here wanting to have a good time, but we also came with the mindset that we wanted to win,” said Moores after Saturday’s final.
There was another reason the Black Sheep took the long drive to central to compete in the Michelob Ultra Open, and that has something to do with an event that happens every year in March.
“We wanted to go to a big tournament before going to provincials, that’s what we had in mind,” said Moores, talking about the Newfoundland and Labrador Volleyball Association’s adult volleyball tournament, March 17-18.
“We’re hoping to do well (in the A division there) this year.”
Just before the Black Sheep took down George’s Ski World to claim the Tier 1 women’s title, the Hustlers defeated the Old Squad in straight sets to capture the men’s crown.
There were only five men’s teams in the tournament. Following their win, team member David Collins said he would love to see more men’s teams sign up to compete in 2019.
Like Moores, Collins also sees this event as a perfect warm-up to provincials, and sees this event as one with limitless potential to grow.
“For men’s, I’d like to see it turn into a pre-comp for provincials,” said Collins, whose younger brother Aaron also played on the Hustlers. “They have the venues here, and I think they can turn it into a big thing. That would be fantastic.”
Unlike the Black Sheep, the Hustlers won’t be competing at this year’s provincial tournament. Individual players will be competing with other teams, so Collins said it was a great opportunity to get some game time before the main even in March.
“Our team is comprised of players like my brother, who just want to get some playing time before provincials,” Collins said. “Sam Shave doesn’t get a whole lot of playing time, Matt Shave doesn’t get a whole lot of playing time. Jake (Dillon) is in Corner Brook and he’s not getting a lot of time, and the other guys just want to come out and play. I threw it out there…and this is what we got.”
After experiencing the tournament for the first time this year, Moores said the Black Sheep would definitely be back again.
She echoed Collins’ thoughts on trying to find more games to get more playing time, and said the annual Michelob Ultra Open gives them that opportunity.
“We don’t get to play in any big tournaments in St. John’s. There’s only one big tournament, and that’s provincials,” she said.
The Exploits Force defeated IBEX in the women’s Tier 2 final 24-26, 25-16, 15-9.