Armed and dangerous

Talented Trojans not taking anything for granted in quest for MHSAA volleyball crown

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A year ago, a youthful Vincent Massey Trojans squad was one win away from a berth in the Manitoba High Schools Athletic Association AAAA varsity girls provincial final.

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A year ago, a youthful Vincent Massey Trojans squad was one win away from a berth in the Manitoba High Schools Athletic Association AAAA varsity girls provincial final.

Beaten and eliminated by the eventual champion J.H. Bruns Broncos that day, the Trojans have returned in 2022 with a renewed sense of purpose and they’ve stormed back to the final four with designs on winning the school’s first AAAA varsity girls title since 1971.

The second-ranked Trojans meet the No. 6 Lord Selkirk Royals in provincial semifinal action at Investors Group Athletic Centre at 8 p.m. Wednesday.

MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Kaiya Krahn is one of three members of the Vincent Massey Trojans varisty girls volleyball team recently ranked among the province’s top-10 players.

Massey-Winnipeg held the No. 1 ranking in the province until late October when a loss to the Vincent Massey (Brandon) Vikings in the semifinals of the St. Vital Invitational triggered a realignment atop the rankings.

The top-ranked Vikings take on the No. 4 Sturgeon Heights Huskies in the other semifinal at 6 p.m.

Trojans head coach Mandy Wolfe likes her club’s chances for a number of reasons.

The Winnipeggers are led by 5-10 left side Kaiya Krahn, voted the province’s No. 2 player in a recent Free Press coaches’ poll. Last season Krahn was a spectator at the provincials, sidelined by a shoulder surgery, but she’s back to full health and performing at an all-star level.

“Phenomenal aggressive hitter, phenomenal passer, phenomenal defender,” said Wolfe of Krahn. “She’s not big but she works hard for it. She plays big.”

The Trojans, however, are far from a one-woman show. Wolfe, in her seventh year as head coach of the program, returned five starters from last year’s squad.

“I have (Krahn) on the left side. I have Monique Rouire, she’s my 6-2 middle, and probably the most dominant middle in the province right now and then my setter Teagan Penner,” said Wolfe. “All three of them were ranked in the top 10 this year so collectively, we have a lot of weapons.”

Krahn would like another shot at beating the Brandonites.

“(The Vikings) are a really good team,” she said. “We played their club team all the time and they were always our big rival so it makes sense to be rivals during the school season, too. I know we weren’t playing our best game or at least it wasn’t our best showing (when we lost to them) but they were playing really well.”

To reach Monday’s final, the Trojans must continue their mastery of the Royals after winning all four previous meetings.

“We are confident, but we are also considerate that it could be anybody’s day,” said Wolfe.

“For us, it’s just a matter of getting our athletes prepared,” said Royals head coach Chad Whiteside. “We have a great volleyball tradition at Selkirk and I think the way to overcome (an 0-for-4 record) is just to get your athletes as prepared as possible. Honestly, we’re really excited about the opportunity.”

MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Members of the eight teams vying for the MHSAA AAAA Provincial Volleyball Championship during a press conference at the Manitoba Sport Hall of Fame.

The Huskies are led into battle against Vincent Massey (Brandon) by University of Winnipeg commit Brooke Duncalfe, a powerful left side player rated third in the Free Press coaches’ poll.

Duncalfe is confident her team is capable of pulling an upset while Vikings head coach Michael DeGroot is being careful not to look too far head.

“We’re taking it one game at a time for sure,” said DeGroot. “We’ve played Sturgeon quite a bit this year and we’ve been really competitive — they’ve beaten us early and we beat them later but if we’re not focused, we will not get to that last match of the year.”

Should a Trojans-Vikings matchup materialize in Monday’s final, DeGroot expects his team will be well prepared.

Defeating the Trojans, who swept three earlier meetings, gave his club hope.

“I think it basically gave them the confidence to know that it can be done. But we’re under no illusion that anything’s going to be easy, like the Sturgeon game that we have. Tomorrow night is going to be very competitive. And they’re, you know, they want it and they’ve got a solid team, too.”

mike.sawatzky@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @sawa14

Mike Sawatzky

Mike Sawatzky
Reporter

Mike has been working on the Free Press sports desk since 2003.

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Updated on Tuesday, November 29, 2022 7:00 PM CST: Updates factbox

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