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PHOTO: Volleyball Royals wrap up season


Team boasted international flavour

ANTIGONISH, N.S. —

ANTIGONISH - They may have finished one step short of their goal, but the Dr. John Hugh Gillis Regional Royals Division 1 girls’ volleyball program made great progress.     
“It has been really enjoyable,” head coach Joe Duggan said.     
Although the Royals – perennial contenders provincially – did not earn a spot in the Nova Scotia School Athletic Federation (NSSAF) Division 1 championship tournament this season, the veteran mentor noted the team made “huge strides.”     
“Everyone put in a tremendous effort,” Duggan added.   

Meredith Spin Grant serves for the Royals. Corey LeBlanc
Meredith Spin Grant serves for the Royals. Corey LeBlanc

He noted their performance in a Nov. 27 home loss to the Sydney Academy Wildcats in a qualifying match did not reflect how much progress the program had made.     
“It was just one of those days and we fell short,” Duggan said.     
Nevertheless, that disappointment doesn’t dampen his or the players' pride in their season, one that featured a roster made up mainly of Grade 9 and 10 student-athletes.     
“We really improved,” Grade 12 co-captain Gracie Morrell said, noting there was a great deal of focus on skill development.     
Brianna Grant – another Grade 12 co-captain – added “we really came into our own in the second half of the season.”     
Duggan called Morrell and Grant “mainstays” of the program, crediting them for their role in helping develop the younger players.     
The roster this season also featured an international flavour, with exchange students Gaia Calcagno and Giulia Colombo, both of Italy, and Emilia Vicente of Chile suiting up for the Royals.     
“We are allowed to wear jewellery when we play at home,” Calcagno said, with a laugh, as they reflected on differences in playing here.                                                                              Along with their skill level, Duggan said the trio helped Grant and Morrell in the leadership area.     
“They brought a level of maturity and their experience filtered through the rest of the team,” the head coach added.     

Grade 12 Brianna Grant was one of the key contributors to the Dr. John Hugh Gillis Regional Royals Division 1 girls’ volleyball team this season. Corey LeBlanc
Grade 12 Brianna Grant was one of the key contributors to the Dr. John Hugh Gillis Regional Royals Division 1 girls’ volleyball team this season. Corey LeBlanc


“We are grateful with what they have brought to our program.”     
The co-captains agreed.      
“They brought so much happiness to our team,” Grant said.     
She added the players “spent a lot of time together.”     
“We became family,” Morrell said.     
Duggan said this team is one of the most “tight-knit” he has ever coached at the Regional.     
As for highlights of the season, Morrell quipped winning a set against the powerhouse CEC Cougars.     
There was also a thrilling match against the Northumberland Nighthawks in regional play downs.

Gracie Morell (#7) rises for a kill for the Royals. Corey LeBlanc
Gracie Morell (#7) rises for a kill for the Royals. Corey LeBlanc

 
“It has been a lot of fun,” Vicente, who will return home in a couple months.     
Calcagno and Colombo, who will be here until June, will graduate with the Class of 2019 at the Regional.     
When asked what they would miss about their time in Antigonish, Morrell and Grant suggested Tim Horton’s, as the group laughed.     
The international players praised not only their teammates and coaches, but also the Regional school community and host families.     
“It has been an incredible experience,” Colombo said.

THE ROSTER

#1 Alexis MacInnis
#2 Katie MacNeil
#3 Anna Robertson
#4 Gaia Calcagno
#5 Hannah Mac Eachern
#6 Taylor Sampson
#7 Gracie Morell
#8 Mya Artibello
#9 Brianna Grant
#10 Maddy Mac Lellan
#11 Meredith Spin – Grant
#12 Giulia Colombo
#13 Rachel Gardiner
#14 Emelia Vincente
#15 Josie MacQuarrie

Head Coach - Joe Duggan
Asst. Coach – Heather Isenor
Asst. Coach – Tara Gowen 
 

    


 

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