Pakmen rule at Beach Nationals

  • August 28, 2018


Mississauga Pakmen soared to record heights at the 2018 Youth and Senior Beach Nationals at Toronto’s Ashbridges Bay from August 17-19.

Pakmen athletes earned podium finishes in six of the seven age categories, resulting in four gold, three silver and four bronze medals in the Tier 1 level and another gold medal in Tier 2.

The nation-wide dominance made it a summer worthy of scurrying for the record books.

“This was our most successful beach National in the history of the club,” confirmed club president Kelly Smith, who founded the club in 2002. Still displaying a broad smile days after the club’s showing, Smith marveled, “We had athletes on the podium in almost every event, and often winning more than one medal.

“Words cannot describe how proud I am of our coaches and athletes after their performance,”  added Kelly, who was especially delighted that, “All of our coaches came through the Pakmen system as players, which makes this especially gratifying. And, I am so proud of the commitment our athletes made this summer.”

Beach head coach Jessy Satti was most impressed with the realization, “All of the athletes all played their best volleyball. Even those who didn’t medal and did not make the podium, played phenomenal volleyball.

“It makes me proud as a coach that they were all peaking at the right time, and it speaks to how hard they trained. The way teams were out there practicing through the extreme heat, shows their commitment level. There’s no doubt extra practices in the tough weather helped out for sure. It’s a testament to how hard they worked.”

Pakmen athletes were certainly front and centre when it came to the medal ceremonies as they were instrumental in 12 of the 21 top-3 finishes.

And, in no division were they more dominant than in 16U Boys, where Jamie Ha and Harjas Chahal completed the summer sweep winning both the Provincial and National titles.

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16U Boys

Standing next to them were Matthew Rugosi and his partner Arthur Bento with the silver, and Nolan Shapcott, with his partner Iain Panagiotou, with the bronze.

Chahal left no doubt why Pakmen enjoyed such success.

“For the Pakmen to be involved in a podium sweep illustrates the high level of coaching and competition you get from Pakmen’s elite beach training that’s run by coach Jessy Satti who provides elite coaching. He also brings in coaches like (Lennard) Krapp, who is probably one of the best beach coaches in the world.”

Winners of nine of their 10 matches, Chahal and Ha‘s lone misstep came in their fifth match against Rugosi and Bento, when they fell 21-12, 13-21, 11-15.

“Harjas and I didn’t play Matthew and Arthur throughout the summer until Nationals,” said Ha. “And, when we played them in the preliminary round they were very determined to beat us. It also wasn’t easy for us to play a team that was younger.”

The sting, accompanied with the loss, stayed with the champions until they were able to turn the tables in the final, winning in exciting fashion, 21-15, 16-21, 15-13.

“Harjas and I stayed positive throughout the whole tournament and took our loss against Matthew and Arthur as motivation to beat them in the finals,” said Ha, who attends Mississauga’s St. Marcellinus Secondary School.

“We knew we weren’t going to lose to one team twice in one tournament, so we knew we had to play our greatest game of the year in the final,” chimed in Chahal, adding, “We weren’t going to make it all the way to national finals to lose.

“Playing a Pakmen teammate (in Matthew) was more intense than playing someone else because we train together and we know each others’ strengths and weaknesses, which is one of the reasons why the game was so tight,” added the Mississauga Secondary student.

The reason for the final turning out the way it did, was stamina, according to Ha.

“Harjas and I had a lot more energy during our final match against Matthew and Arthur. Also, we played more aggressively with our hitting and serving.

“Training was a huge factor for Harjas and I this summer because we had the opportunity to play good teams at beach training and it really helped prepare us for our competition.”

“I think what separated Jamie and I from the competition was our desire to compete and win and keeping our bodies in good condition, especially since Nationals was three days out in the heat,” agreed Chahal.

On the way to meeting Rugosi and Bento in the final, Ha and Chahal defeated the team of Abdelaziz and Berendsen 22-20, 21-4 in the quarters and Lyan Krapp and Jason Cazes 21-10, 21-17 in the semis.

Meanwhile, the team of Rugosi and Bento won seven of their nine matches, including wins over Song and Leo in the quarters, 21-16, 21-19 and Panagiotou and Shapcott, 21-11, 21-10 in the semis.

Impressive results when you consider Rugosi and Bento had been together for less than a week.

“Arthur and I met on a club team four years ago and we played beach from 12U to 13U. Then we met up again four days before Nationals since both of our regular season partners couldn’t play,” explained Rugosi. “What made Arthur and I such a strong team was our drive to win every point and to not let the ball touch the ground no matter how far (out of reach) it was.

“Arthur and I knew entering the final, that it was going to be a tough game,” continued the 5-foot-7 Rugosi, who attends Etobicoke’s Bishop Allen Academy. “We were nervous the first set and lost. Then we won the second set and took the No. 1 ranked team in Canada to a third set. During the game we tried to execute each and every one of our goals to help us win. Even though we lost by two points, we came really close against such an amazing team and I couldn’t have been happier with how well my partner and I played.

“We were very proud of our final results judging from the fact that we were ranked 17th going into the tournament, both played a year up and formed our team four days before and only had one practice to get used to playing with each other.”

As for Shapcott and partner Panagiotou, their bronze medal came after wins in six of nine matches, including a 21-16, 21-18 win over Krapp and Cazes for the bronze medal.

Shapcott was delighted with the outcome, especially since the team had to fight back from a set down to defeat 15U OVA champions Kenneth Mann and Punit Shah in the quarter-finals, 21-23, 21-13, 15-7.

“Our match against Mann and Shah went to three sets, but since we took the second and third sets pretty handily, it didn’t seem as close as third setters usually do,” said Shapcott.

The semi-finals was, however, a different story.

“I think we were prepared for our match against Bento and Rugosi. They’re a really strong team, who played their best volleyball against us. They deserved to beat us on that day, but maybe on a different day we can beat them and go to the finals ourselves.”

“We had a very consistent and strong performance throughout the weekend,” added the Orangeville resident, who attends Westside Secondary. “Iain and I are very happy with our result. If you would have told me three years ago that in 2018 we would place third at Nationals I probably would have laughed and not believed you for a second. It feels good to know that all our hard work throughout this summer paid off with a bronze medal at Nationals.”

The 6-foot-3 Shapcott added he and Panagiotou take a cerebral approach to the game after befriending each other many years ago as foes through hockey. Panagiotou’s father also played an instrumental role in the relationship as Shapcott’s elementary school volleyball coach.

“Iain was looking for a beach partner and his dad gave my mom a call,” explained Shapcott. “I had never played beach before, but I was super excited to try it. We have now been partners for three years and have improved significantly as a beach partnership and as friends.

“Iain and I make a strong team because we are both really smart players and understand the game very well,” explained Shapcott. “We also play really scrappy defence, which is what I think our number one asset is.”

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16U Girls

Female counterparts Ava Mann and Kaylee Glagau also pulled off the summer sweep, winning the Provincial 16U and 18U titles, before winning the 16U National championship with a three set 21-18, 21-23, 15-8 win over the British Columbia team of Gracie May and Sara Ostojic.

It was the only set Mann and Glagau dropped the entire tournament, as they won all nine of their matches and 18 of 19 sets.

“The most difficult match to win was the final because we played a team that we had never seen before,” explained Mann. “They pushed Kaylee and I the most during the whole tournament.”

Before reaching the final, Mann and Glagau defeated the team of Sarah-Pardo Villacob and Aliah Admans 21-9, 21-11 in the semi-final and Marangelli and Milling 21-15, 21-12 in the quarters.

The near-perfect tournament was certainly a great way to cap off the summer.

“This is the most impressive summer of action we have experienced,” said Mann, who attends Burlington’s Dr. Frank Hayden. “We worked so hard during the season with goals to win all three of these tournaments and it paid off.”

“Ava and I were extremely excited for this past Nationals as we have been preparing all summer to capture the gold,” said Glagau, a Streetsville Secondary student. “This beach season has been the most successful and fun, not only because we increased our physical game and won a lot of tournaments, but we also increased our mental game.

“In 13U, we would get very mad at each other during game play,” explained the 6-foot-2 Glagau. “But over the years it has gotten better and this year, it has been the best it has ever been for us. We have been so in sync and have played ‘as one’ this season. This year was the first year we understood that just playing volleyball and having fun is up to us and ultimately, is the best way to play.”

Mann added that Glagau’s strengths and playing style mesh well with hers.

“Kaylee is a very tall player, so she is amazing at the net, which makes it a lot easier for me to defend in the back. I think Kaylee’s strengths are hitting and blocking, and mine are defending; however, both of our weaknesses is staying mentally tough throughout tough matches. So, whenever one of us is having a tough time, the other will always help and try to be louder, faster and more aggressive on the court.”

While May and Ostojic won the silver, and Villacob and Admans won the bronze, Pakmen players Masha Solaja and Sara Wynia came oh so close to a medal.

After winning six of their first seven matches, Solaja and Wynia defeated Rhea Kohl and Guerard in the quarters 21-13, 21-13, before dropping a heart-breaker to May and Ostojic in the semis, 21-18, 21-19. Unfortunately, Solaja and Wynia couldn’t rebound in the bronze medal match, losing 21-19, 21-18 to Villacob and Admans.

“I am very proud of our finish and happy with the overall experience of competing at Nationals,” said Wynia, an outside hitter/libero, who was playing in her first Nationals. “It would have been great to medal, of course, but to finish fourth in the country is still a great accomplishment.

“Masha and I have only played one tournament together over the season, so we haven’t been partners long. It was a last-minute partnership and we had a great time.

“Obviously it sucks losing, especially when the scores were so tight and could have gone either way,” continued 5-foot-10 Wynia, who attends Brampton’s St. Edmund Campion. “The games were close and intense, but I am super proud of how Masha and I played. Both teams we played in the semis and bronze were very good and really made us work for every point.”

“Looking back at close matches like that always makes you think if you changed one strategy or two would you have been able to push through to win,” said Solaja. “But I know Sara always gave her best, which pushed me to do the same. It’s unfortunate just missing the podium, but I am glad I had the experience to play with such a great partner in the first place.

“Having just become a team there are always some small kinks to work out,” added the 5-foot-9 Solaja, who attends Etobicoke’s Bishop Allen Academy. “We didn’t have a lot of time to prepare, but straightening some general ideas of what to do in certain situations will make us an even better team because, with all our bases covered, we can then move on to running our different offences and strategizing in special cases. The positive energy we have together and our communication is great and continuing to work on that will keep strengthening our bond.”

During most of the summer, Wynia and Solaja played with different partners, until they decided to play together for an 18U event.

“Since we are such close friends we wanted to play an 18U tournament earlier in the season for fun to see how we would work together, and we always had this connection where we knew what the other was thinking,” said Solaja. “That’s what makes us a strong team I believe, along with the fact that we don’t get mad at each other, but only encourage and talk when things need to be changed. After Provincials I was ready to try something new and turned to Sara first as I knew I would not only play well with her, but have a fun and interesting experience.”

“I think what makes Masha and I such a strong team is being friends on and off the court,” offered Wynia. “We are able to tell each other exactly what we are thinking during games and on time outs and adapt to anything we are seeing. I am very happy we got the chance to play Nationals together. We both are very competitive and Masha killed it all weekend!”

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18U Boys

Speaking of killing it, spectators were treated to a Pakmen final in the 18U Boys category as Peter Rugosi and Jackson Young went head-to-head with Cole Ketrzynski, and his partner Cole Irwin.

While it wasn’t easy, Rugosi and Young prevailed in straight sets, 21-18, 21-17.

Rugosi and Young won all nine of their matches and dropped only two sets the entire weekend, before sweeping aside Hamel and Southiere of Quebec 21-19, 21-19 in the quarters and Pickett and Nusselder 21-14, 21-13 in the semis.

Rugosi, an Etobicoke resident, who attends Bishop Allen Academy, gave Young credit for the team’s successful weekend.

“What separated Jackson and I from the field was the fact that Jackson had one of the highest blocks on the beach which helped lessen the pressure on my defense,” said Rugosi. “I think what also helped was we haven’t played a lot of tournaments this summer together, so teams were confused on who to serve to and where to find a weakness with such little experience watching us play.”

Rugosi managed to do some time sharing over the summer, also representing Ontario at the Canada Cup at the Olympic Oval in Richmond, B.C., where he and fellow Pakmen Luca Nastase helped Ontario Black win gold over Alberta.

Other Pakmen representing Ontario teams at the event, included Vincent Berendsen, Jamie Ha, Azeem Raheem, Ishaan Thandi and Davis Young.

“It was tough to stay sharp (throughout the summer) because Jackson and I didn’t play that much beach since we were constantly playing indoor volleyball, which took up a lot of our time,” explained Rugosi. “We managed to stay focused though and focus on beach when we were done indoor. Satti helped us with our training, which enabled us to make constant small improvements at practice.”

Enough improvements for Rugosi and Young to win both Provincials and Nationals.

“Nationals felt like a bigger win to me because there was much more competition,” said Rugosi comparing the two. “There weren’t only Ontario teams this time, we also had Alberta and Quebec teams playing. Nationals was also more intense, since this was our last beach tournament this season. Some teams also stepped up their game a lot since Provincials like Kemp and Rahnavard, who took us to three sets on the second day. The National title felt more important because it was that much harder to win.”

Despite losing in the final, Ketrzynski, a student at York Mills Collegiate, was happy with his team’s performance.

“This was our first time playing together,” said Ketrzynski of his partner Irwin, who plays for the Galaxy Ghosts. “We turned (the tournament) around (after two earlier losses) by getting used to playing together and giving each other feedback.

“The final was a good game and we didn’t come as close as we would have liked, but we still were able to compete,” added the 6-foot-7 Ketrzynski, who suggested Pakmen’s overall success on the weekend, “I think comes down to consistent hard work and strong motivation from the coaches.”

Rugosi agreed with Ketrzynski assessment that experience played a key role in the final outcome.

“I think Jackson and I had the edge because they were a new, last-minute team,” said Rugosi. “We had more practices and tournaments together, which heavily contributed to our chemistry.”

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15U Girls

Kate and Jia Pakmen Volleyball 15U Girls SilverWhile Pakmen were denied gold in the 15U Girls’ category, the club did have a stake in the silver and bronze medals.

The Pakmen duo of Jia Lonardi and Kate Clermont upset the previously undefeated team of Josephine Sek of the Pakmen and her partner Ava Khademi 21-19, 24-22 in the semi-final.

While Clermont and Lonardi couldn’t finish out the tournament with a gold, losing a tough 19-21, 21-14, 13-15 match to Tia Shum and Sophia Hladyniuk, Sek and Khademi were able to rebound from their semi-final loss and defeat Isabella Samadzadeh and Shields for the bronze.

“After the tight 19-21 opening set, Jia and I weren’t going to give up and we kept talking and playing hard until we won that set,” explained Clermont. “Slightly missing out in the first set really lit a fire under us and we really showed how much we wanted to win. Then, in the final set, it was neck and neck and we were feeling really confident because we were playing great, but they managed to get to 15 before us by making a few less errors.

“I am very happy with how far we’ve come, but we were definitely going for gold,” said Clermont, whose been playing both indoor and beach since 12U, but just joined the Pakmen a year ago. “When you get this far in a tournament, it could be anyone’s game. We both played very strong, if not our strongest, but it just comes down to which team makes fewer errors. We also had a very successful season winning many golds, so we were pushing for another.”

“We were only two points away from (winning) gold, but we are truly happy for the National silver medal,” said Lonardi,who attends Mississauga’s St. Aloysius Gonzaga. “And, since this was our first year together, it was quite an accomplishment!

“I knew Kate from playing against her in indoor and beach,” explained the 5-foot-10 Lonardi on how their team was formed. “When she came to Pakmen this past year, we hit it off right away and became close friends. We decided to take the friendship one step further and become beach partners.

“Ever since we started playing together we seemed to have complementary skills that work so well on the beach.”

And, Clermont is thrilled with her new life with the Pakmen.

“I’ve really enjoyed representing the club,” said the Burlington native, who attends Dr. Frank Hayden Secondary. “I’m so glad I now play for this club because it feels like a family.

“Jia and I are friends on and off the court, which makes it so easy to communicate with each other,” added the 6-foot-1 Clermont. “We are always pumped and ready to take on any team we are about to play.”

Especially, it seems, if its another team representing the Pakmen.

“I think it was both intense and fun to play our teammate from indoor,” said Clermont. “Both teams wanted to win so bad to get into the finals, so everyone was on top of their game. Jia and I showed great mental toughness, but it was also a fun match because it is way better to play a team that is good competition. And Josie is a great example of a tough competitor.”

For her part, Sek knew her semi-final against Clermont and Lonardi would go down to the wire.

“Ava and I didn’t take Kate and Jia lightly,” said Sek. “We knew they were a good team and it would be a tough game. And, although we didn’t get the outcome we hoped for, we played well. I believe we would have been more successful if we made more aggressive shots and didn’t miss as many serves at such crucial moments.

“It was a very stressful (semi-final) and we made Jia and Kate work for their win. I think, If anything, their winning against Ava and I got them excited for the finals.”

Sek had reason to be optimistic heading into the semi-final after she and Khademi defeated them earlier in the round robin stage in straight sets, 21-13, 21-7.

“I had lost to Kate and Jia almost every time previously, but, I was always playing with a different partner. The first time Ava and I played them on the first day of Nationals we won.”

Still, Sek was proud with how she and partner Khademi bounced back to win the bronze.

“After we lost in our semis, we did feel a bit defeated,” revealed Sek. “I tried not to show how upset I was because I knew we still had a bronze medal match to win. Ava and I talked about what we did well and what we needed to improve on for the bronze medal match. We got in a good warm up and started the game off strong.”

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14U Boys

The last of the OVA Beach champions to also win at Nationals was the 14U team of Nikola Mitrovic and Kaden Schmidt.

After defeating fellow Pakman Adam Shapcott and his partner Kal Marion in the semi-final 21-15, 21-16, Mitrovic and Schmidt won a tough three-set gold medal match against Marc-Antoine Fortin and Olivier Ducharme of Quebec, 16-21, 21-11, 15-10.

“To win the National and Provincial golds back-to-back is quite a special feeling,” said the 5-foot-9 Schmidt, who will attend Toronto District Christian in the fall. “I never thought, when I started playing volleyball years ago, that I’d be a national champ at the age of 13. It’s an honor to have the title.”

“It’s an amazing feeling as we can say all of our hard work paid off,” smiled Mitrovic. “It’s not every day you get to say you’re a two-time National champion for indoor and beach, as well as beach Provincial champion.”

It was an especially satisfying win considering Schmidt and Mitrovic were stretched to three sets before claiming top spot on the podium.

“Playing Quebec (for gold) was a tough game,” added Schmidt. “(Fortin and Ducharme) looked much improved during warm ups from when we met them in power pool play. You could see they were hungry for the win.

“While they won the first set, we built momentum towards the end and then won the second set and blew them out in the third. Nik and I needed to play as a team, not individuals, and that’s what we did to win. (Pakmen alumnus) Taryq Sani mentored us and taught us to trust each other in the game. To play to each other’s strengths as Nik and I really complement each other in our strengths.

“(Head coach) Jessy (Satti) was great! He was able to give us tips and advice as we developed early in the season. We were a new team, so we had lots to learn. We were better and stronger thanks to the touches we got at the practices that Jessy led. He really has an interest in all the Pakmen, which is cool.”

“The Pakmen training was an amazing asset to our beach season, as Jessy always gave it his all to make sure the boys were on their ‘A’ game,” agreed Mitrovic. “He is an awesome coach and certainly helped and improved Kaden and I as well as the other Pakmen.”

Meanwhile, Shapcott and Marion rebounded from their semi-final defeat to beat the team of Peyton Fulmer and Ethan Eiselt-Rolfe to claim bronze.

“I would love another shot at Kaden and Nikola,” said Shapcott, not quite willing to let the Nationals rest. “Kal and I had a close match with them in power pools (losing 17-21, 24-22, 12-15). So we know we can compete with them. Our strategy to block more and try to serve tougher did cause us some errors, but we had to go for it. Unfortunately, we just didn’t have enough to beat them. They are a strong team, but I know we can beat them some day!”

Still, an impressive result for Shapcott, considering this is only the Orangeville resident’s second year on the sand.

“This was only my second year playing beach and indoor,” said the 5-foot-8 Westside Secondary School student. “I found beach very frustrating my first year, but through playing and training more this year, I have gained confidence and now love it. Being able to play with my older brother Nolan on the beach is so much fun! I think I’ve caught his love for the beach game.”

And, although Shapcott only met Marion recently through his older brother Nolan’s beach partner Iain Panagiotou, the two seemed to click.

“Iain’s dad Paul suggested that Kal and I would make a good team. We registered for a tournament without even meeting. I didn’t even know what he looked like. I found him on the beach only by his name being on his shorts,” laughed Shapcott. “But, we really clicked. We came second in our first tournament, and came second again, but unfortunately, placed fourth at Provincials.

“Our strength is that we are pretty good technically. We both have good all round skills for the beach game, and we are both very competitive and love beach! We need to communicate better, but it did get better with each tournament. We also need to learn to try to stay up when we are down.”

Pakmen teammates Jacob Nowak and Tyler McBride also enjoyed a golden moment at Nationals, but it came in Tier 2 play.

Losing three of their first four matches, the Pakmen duo was relegated to the second tier after their seventh match against Quebec’s Brossard and Parent-Thibault.

From there, Nowak and McBride defeated the teams of Tsiapalis and Nissan; Bujold and Waller; and Cheung and Rosenbloom.

“I hadn’t played with Tyler for a while, so the struggle during pool play was more within ourselves instead of who we were playing against,” explained Nowak. “During the first few games of the tournament, Tyler and I lacked communication. This produced very little energy on the court and it was hard for us to build momentum. We then forced ourselves to be louder on court and keep the energy high and soon it became natural.

“I think Tyler and I had a memorable and fun time at Nationals,” added Nowak. “We managed to take a rocky start and finish off strong. I feel like we were satisfied with the outcome, but we know we could’ve done better.”

“To me it was very important to finish the way we did because it was a pretty big accomplishment, although it was not in the tier we wanted,” said partner McBride, who attends Oakville’s Abbey Park. “I believe Jacob and I came to a point where we realized we had nothing to lose and really turned up our game and played to our highest level.”

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14U Girls

Emma and Lauren Pakmen Volleyball 14U BronzeThe other podium finishers representing the Pakmen were Emma Glagau and Lauren Perugini.

Sailing through the entire field with six wins in seven matches, Glagau and Perugini defeated Paige Owen and Mave Millard in the quarters, 21-10, 21-13, before losing to Alyssa Lalli and Tatum Finlason 18-21, 21-19, 9-15 in the semi-finals.

They were, however, able to rebound with a 14-21, 21-18, 15-12 win over Ruby Sorra and Katrina Stanfield to capture the bronze.

“It was an outstanding accomplishment bouncing back for that bronze medal when we were very disappointed in our semi-final loss,” said Glagau, who along with Perugini, were playing a year up. “We played a team (in Sorra and Stanfield) that we had never beaten, and they played very well. But, we kept our heads in the game throughout. In my opinion, the bronze medal is the hardest to win because both teams are coming off hard losses and need to have a bounce back in order to win that bronze medal.”

“Emma and I were a bit disappointed that we didn’t walk away with gold around our necks, but third in Canada isn’t that bad considering we are playing against older girls,” concurred Perugini. “We weren’t as satisfied with our end result as some might say we should’ve been, simply because we know that we can compete at a higher level. Emma and I both have high expectations for ourselves individually and together as a team, so we push each other constantly and try not to think of our age as a disadvantage or excuse when we’re on the court.”

“The loss against Lalli and Finlason was devastating because we had our hearts set on that gold medal,” said Glagau, who will be attending Mississauga’s Streetsville Secondary School in the fall. “Lauren and I stayed connected throughout the whole game, although there were a couple of hiccups that made the difference in the third set. A lot of the time it was passing errors.”

“We had faced Lalli and Finlason in power pools the day before, beating them 21-13, 21-13,” said Perugini. “Despite our easy win, we knew our semi-final was going to be a really tough match. Lalli and Finlason are another very strong partnership who were our biggest competition all season. The score of the first set was 18-21 and we came back and won the second 21-18 forcing it to a third set. It was almost like déjà vu. We were in the same position as we were at Provincials final (losing 18-16 in the third). And, we had the momentum going into the third, but later on in the set, once the score got closer, the pressure started getting to us and the thought of losing to them the same way we had in the Provincial finals kept crossing our minds. We couldn’t close out the set.”

“We were beyond disappointed after our semi finals, but we knew that we would have to give everything we had left to win the bronze,” said the 5-foot-10 Perugini, who is also from Mississauga and attends St. Francis of Assisi Catholic School. “We also knew that this would be our toughest match of the tournament having to bounce back right after our tough loss, and manage our nerves too. I rarely get nervous for games, but having to face Sorra and Stanfield, the only team we hadn’t beaten all summer, did make me a bit anxious. We knew that we had to be as mentally strong as we are physically and had to be the louder team on the court. I think that the turning point was right after the first set, when we realized that we had nothing left to lose. We played our hardest on every point and were simply enjoying what we were doing. We also minimized our mental lapses, which meant forgetting about a point we didn’t get right away, and focusing on the next one. In the end, we stuck to our game plan and ultimately played the best volleyball we could play.”

Glagau says the result wouldn’t have been possible without the mentorship of her older sister Kaylee, who won the 16U title with Mann.

Even with the National bronze, Glagau was still smiling about moving up two age groups to play her sister at Provincials.

“Kaylee has helped me significantly throughout my early volleyball career,” said the 6-foot Glagau. “Without her I would most likely not even be playing volleyball right now never mind achieving third at Nationals playing a year up. She has been a role model on and off the court as long as I can remember. Everything I have accomplished and will accomplish in volleyball, Kaylee has been a very big part of.

“It was an outstanding  opportunity playing my sister with one of the best partners ever. It was an honor playing my sister and her partner Ava. I didn’t really care that we lost, I knew I definitely could have played better, but I was proud I got to play the National champions and 18U and 16U Provincial champions and even prouder that she was my sister.”

Still, coming so close to National gold while playing up a year, bodes well for the team’s future.

“Emma and I have been a team for two years,” said Perugini. “We have a solid bond when we compete and have an even stronger friendship off the court, which makes it much easier to play together since we know each other so well.”

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