Hapnot Collegiate's senior Kweens and Kings took their best shot at glory at provincials this weekend, with the Kweens coming second, just short of the school's first-ever provincial volleyball title.
Playing in The Pas, the Kweens opened the tournament against Les Roys from Ile-des-Chenes' College-Regional Gabrielle-Roy, ending in a hard-fought 22-25, 20-25 loss for the Kweens. Despite the early setback, Hapnot charged back, handing Grunthal's Green Valley Pirates a 25-23, 25-21 loss in another close game, then beating Virden in a 27-25, 27-25 slugfest that required extra points in both sets.
Hapnot ended pool play with a 19-25, 24-26 loss to the Rosenort Redhawks, but still got out of pool play ranked third with a 2-2 record, setting up a berth in the quarterfinals against the Elton Sabres.
In the playoff bracket, the Kweens worked quick, beating the Sabres 25-23, 25-17 and setting up a grudge match with Les Roys in the provincial semifinals. This time, it was Hapnot that would not be denied. Les Roys had gone undefeated through provincials to that point, but the Kweens sent them out of contention with a 25-21, 25-21 win, bringing Hapnot to the finals and on the verge of the school's first-ever provincial volleyball gold medal.
The test would be a tough one - Hapnot would face the Major Pratt Trojans from Russell, a team they were very familiar with. The Trojans played Hapnot twice last month at a tournament in the Trojans' hometown, handing the Kweens a pair of losses, one in pool play and a second in the tournament final.
Three weeks after that tournament, the Kweens and Major Pratt would meet again with a place in the history books on the line.
The Kweens got out to an early first set lead, but the Trojans would take over the set later. Hapnot had a health amount of fan support in the Margaret Barbour Collegiate (MBCI) gym, with several "Let's go Hapnot, let's go" chants, but the Trojans would continue on, winning the first set.
In the second, Hapnot jumped out to another early lead, only for Russell to take over shortly after again. The Kweens showed fight late, pulling close to the Trojans and giving them a scare, forcing them to call a late timeout to restrategize, but the Trojans knocked off three straight points to win the title and hand Hapnot second place. The final score - 19-25, 18-25, Major Pratt.
According to the Manitoba High Schools Athletic Association (MHSAA), Hapnot has not won a Manitoba provincial title in any team sport since 1995, when the school's boys' golf team earned the glory. None of the school's volleyball teams - either boys' or girls', varsity or junior varsity - have ever won the title before.
The Kweens had five Grade 12 players on the team's 13-player final game roster - Shanti Church, Olivia Fernandes, Hanna Lytwyn, Katrina MacQuarrie and Gianna Watt. Church and Watt were both named to the tournament's all-star team.
The senior Kings played their provincials simultaneously in The Pas, firing on all cylinders through pool play and the playoffs and just missing the podium.
The Kings went through pool play with a mixed record, winning their first game Dec. 1 against the William Morton Warriors from Gladstone in three sets by a 25-27, 25-17, 18-16 score. The Kings would drop their second matchup to Rosenort, losing the first set 13-25, winning the second 25-18 but losing a decisive third set 8-15.
Hapnot would face Landmark in their next game Dec. 2, losing 16-25, 15-25, but would rally to beat the host MBCI Spartans 25-19, 25-22 to move to a 2-2 record. That 2-2 record - the same as the Kweens' through pool play - gave Hapnot another third place in their pool and pushed them through into the bracket, while it eliminated the Spartans from contention.
In the bracket, the Kings faced Major Pratt in a quarterfinal and beat them 25-16, 25-21, setting up a rematch with Landmark in the provincial semifinals. Unfortunately for the Kings, there would be no redemption in their second match with the 96ers, ending in a 7-25, 20-25 loss.
The Kings' weekend - and season - was not over though, with the Kings facing a second chance at redemption in the bronze medal game, playing Rosenort. Once again though, it wasn't meant to be - Hapnot lost the first set 12-25 and despite a second set rally, lost that 24-26, picking up fourth place.
The tournament signals the end of the volleyball careers for the team's four senior players - Tye Burke, Dax Lawrence, Jamal Lone and Owen Werry. The remaining six players are Grade 11 students and will be eligible to return next season.