Rankin Inlet’s 18U girls outfit captured the territorial title in Iqaluit late last month and it could be the start of a long reign at the top.
The group of young ladies from the Kivalliq defeated Whale Cove in the final of the girls division at the Nunavut 18U Volleyball Championships in the capital on April 22 by a score of 3-1 in sets.
Robert Kabvitok, who helped coach the girls to victory, said it wasn’t exactly the final he was expecting.
“We were expecting to play Iqaluit in the final,” he said.
Whale Cove defeated Iqaluit in the semifinals while Rankin Inlet beat Pond Inlet to advance to the final. Iqaluit won the bronze medal by beating Pond Inlet.
In the gold medal game, Rankin Inlet stormed out to a 2-0 lead in the best-of-five match and most volleyball coaches will tell you that’s a dangerous predicament to be in. Whale Cove extended affairs by winning the third set and that meant a regroup for Rankin Inlet.
“Our assistant coach (Holly Mercer) was on the bench saying she wished it was a best-of-three,” said Kabvitok. “Anything can happen in a best-of-five and so we just talked about things and regrouped for the fourth set.”
Rankin Inlet did settle down and won the fourth set to take the title and did it with a mixture of solid offence and good defence, said Kabvitok.
“We aren’t a tipping team, we’re always hitting,” he said. “If we are tipping, we’re trying to put it into a corner. We had good offence all tournament long and our defence came up big as well.”
In the boys final, Gjoa Haven took on Taloyoak in the final and came out on top on an all-Kitikmeot battle while Iqaluit had to settle for the bronze medal.
When it comes to Rankin Inlet, this team has been together for a long time – four years, according to Kabvitok – and there’s at least two more years for this bunch to win some more.
“We went undefeated all the way through this tournament,” he said. “Most of these girls started out at 12 years old and they all know each other so well. They know how to take the pressure and I’m proud of them for the way they played. We’ve been taking these girls to Yellowknife for tournaments there and the teams here in Rankin Inlet have helped us out as well so we owe them a big thanks for their support.”