The John Taylor Pipers boys' volleyball team will attempt to spin to win Thursday at the 2010 Boston Pizza AAAA Provincial High School Volleyball Final Four.
The Pipers, seeded No. 4, bring several players with formidable spin serves into their provincial semifinal against the top-seeded Dakota Lancers.
"We're a school of only 650 kids up against a school like Dakota with 1,400. Our talent pool is a lot slimmer to choose from so we've had to train even harder to get to this point," said Pipers head coach Ryan Vermette, whose team lost two close matches earlier in the season to Dakota. Pipers players who can execute the always dangerous spin serve include Garret Armstrong, Jordan Fyvie, Carson Rozziere and Luke Herr.
"We're definitely going to need them to be on their game, jump spinning against Dakota," said Vermette. "We have just two Grade 12s and Dakota's whole starting lineup is Grade 12s. The key will be which team can out-dig the other team."
The Lancers lost in five sets to the Mennonite Brethren Collegiate Institute Hawks in last year's final and plan to do something about it this year.
"It's always good to come in as No. 1. This is our second year but things have changed for us from last year," said Lancers' 6-foot-5 left-side hitter Tanner McFeetors, 17. "We're a more confident team and having been there and played an intense game helped us to know what we have to do this year to win and that's definitely our goal. We're expecting it to go more than three sets, they're a good team and hit the ball really well."
In the other semifinal, MBCI coach Brian Plett said his Hawks are ready for a mammoth challenge from coach Jim Schreyer's Lord Selkirk Royals.
"Right from the very beginning, Selkirk was a team that was expected to be there at the end, they're very strong and physically they're the most dominant team in the province," Plett said. "Dakota is a solid ball-control team, very good setting (from Josh MacKay). Those (Selkirk and Dakota) are two favoured teams, we sort of slid in the back door. We had success in our KPAC (conference) final against Selkirk, we came out on top, and I like our chances (in the Final Four) as well. John Taylor has really been knocking on the door all year long and has a really dynamic team."
In the girls' semifinals tonight, all eyes will be on coach Christine Rewniak's top-seeded St. Mary's Flames. The Flames, led by left-side Danika Picklyk, who is already committed to the University of Manitoba Bisons for next season, will be challenged by fifth-seed Lord Selkirk Royals.
Coach Robin Craig's Royals bring momentum as the only team in the Final Four by virtue of an upset as the Royals beat fourth-seed Miles Macdonell Buckeyes in the quarter-finals last weekend.
"It's really exciting for our team, it was our goal to get to the Final Four so it feels really good to to have finally made it," said Selkirk Grade 12 middle Jenna Gunter, whose team lost twice to St. Mary's this season but beat the Flames in the West Winnipeg tournament.
The other girls' semifinal will feature coach Megan Bradshaw's No. 3-seeded River East Kodiaks battling the defending champion and Brandon's No. 2-seed Crocus Plains Plainsmen, who are coached by Trista Wenger and undefeated in league play.