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Survival School girls win first-ever female banner

Iaonhátie Deom (setting) led a focused and balanced KSS volleyball team with a blend of hard smacking and quality digging to its first-ever GMAA banner at Trafalgar School. (Daniel J. Rowe, The Eastern Door)
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Down 7-3 in the first game to Rosemount High School in the Greater Montreal Athletics Association Juvenile Girls volleyball championship match, Taierahkwen:hawi Montour stepped up to serve.

The petite grade niner, with a smirk before each serve, rattled off serve after serve with precision and power, and the Rosemount defenders saw point after point fly away with every errant pass.

By the time Montour was finished it was 13-7, and KSS never looked back.

“I just looked at a blind spot and hit it,” said Montour. “I was so happy.”

Montour set the tone for both games, as Survival rode stellar serving to its first-ever volleyball championship banner winning two games to nothing. It was also the first time a female team won a banner for KSS.

Daniel J. Rowe, The Eastern Door
– Daniel J. Rowe, The Eastern Door

Iaonhátie Deom led a focused and balanced KSS volleyball team with a blend of hard smacking and quality digging to its first-ever GMAA banner at Trafalgar School. (Daniel J. Rowe, The Eastern Door

Both teams looked capable of pulling the first game out, but at 16-14 KSS with Survival’s Iaonhátie Deom serving, things did not look good for Rosemount. Deom cracked overhand serve after serve to build the lead to 22-14. KSS won the first game comfortably 25-15.

In volleyball, however, you gotta win two.

Montour again put on a serving clinic early in the second game, nailing five straight points to push the lead to 11-5.

Survival got a taste of its own medicine, however, when a string of Rosemount serves flustered KSS’s backline.

“It was stressful,” said Survival rookie 12-year-old Teionata’a Tolley, whom many of the serves were aimed straight at.

Down 13-12, Rosemount had a tie in sight, when Tolley and the rest of Survival’s defenders buckled down and returned serve for the point.

“I just focused, calmed down, and focused on the ball,” said Tolley. “It was getting really rough.”

With the serve back on the burgundy side of the net, Survival pushed the lead to 20-13, lost two points, and then rode Deom’s hard overhanders to the 25-15 win.

After the game Deom, who was named game MVP, spoke about what her team did to make sure the banner – that the team missed by two points a year ago – did not go to another school.

“I’m so happy and relieved that it’s over,” said Deom. “We focused, and helped each other out. We just tried to encourage each other. We really wanted to win this.”

Part of the team’s success was its serving.

Rosemount just could not answer Survival’s clinical serving with any kind of consistency.

“That’s one of our main challenges in our team is receiving the ball, basically defending, which we lack talent in,” said Rosemount’s Amanda Chudobei.

Rosemount, unlike Survival, also had trouble bouncing back when mistakes were made.

“Once you serve and you get the point, you’re kind of in your own zone, and then as soon as you miss, it’s like the end of the world,” said Rosemount’s Sabrina Montanaro.

Survival’s young players now know how much of a boost quality serving is for a team.

“It’s very, very inspiring,” said Tolley. “I’m like, ‘I want to do that.’”

Next year will be a true test for the team. With the public school teachers’ strike eliminating many teams, only three teams remained in the Juvenile 3 girls division. In a year’s time, there should be more competition.

Regardless, the championship achievement cannot be understated, as KSS lost almost a half-dozen of its top veterans pushing rookies into bigger roles.

They did not disappoint.

“I think we did amazing,” said Tolley. “We just practiced as a team. We stayed together and encouraged each other. That was the biggest thing.”

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