Champs defend volleyball crown

Staff

Impending motherhood cost them one of the cogs in their championship machine, but the rulers of the kingdom weren’t going to let that be a reason to give up their throne.
Back-to-back titles suited the defending champions of the Fort Frances Women’s Volleyball League just fine last Thursday at Fort High as top-ranked How I Set Your Mother rallied from a one-set deficit to beat third-seeded Kiss My Pass 3-2 (25-22, 19-25, 22-25, 25-16, and 15-13) in the final.
With teammate Nancy Indian relegated to a cheerleading role after playing as much of the season as possible while pregnant with her first child, the squad was down to just five players for a title match featuring the last two league winners (the six-member Kiss My Pass team featured many of the same players who captured the championship in 2015).
With the strong net attack from Kayla Windigo and Alyssa Windego, along with the pinpoint setting of Taylor Windego, the solid serving of Shana Windigo, and the impressive defensive work turned in by Dana Allen, the reigning champs jumped out to a 5-1 lead in the first set.
But Kiss My Pass, with Angela Copenace drilling kills at the net and unloading rockets from the service line, battled back to tie it up at 15-15 and then had the set at 21-all.
With the score 24-22 for Mother, Alyssa Windego’s kill attempt clipped the top of the net and froze the Kiss defenders for a split-second, leaving them unable to readjust in time to do anything else but get a hand on the ball as it deflected away.
The second set unfolded in a most unique way, with the teams taking turns recording three-straight points no less than five-consecutive times at the beginning to put Mother in front 9-6.
The Kiss crew went on a 5-1 run to get its first lead of the match at 11-10.
Then at 13-13, they rattled off six-straight points and didn’t give back the lead the rest of the way–nailing down the set with a terrific double-team block of Kayla Windigo’s tip try.
Mother came out blasting in the third set, racing to an 8-3 advantage. But Kiss chipped away with some fine play at the net in a tug-of-war that saw six lead changes and seven ties.
The teams were tied 21-21 before Kiss took three of the last four points, including the concluding exchange that saw a kill deflect off two Mother players and then fall just out of the reach of a third.
That put Kiss within a set win from forcing a best-of-three second match (the double-elimination format required Kiss, with one loss, to beat the unbeaten Mother squad twice).
An early 7-2 run in the fourth had Mother up 9-4 and had Kiss calling time-out to try and settle things down.
But Kiss would draw no closer than three points for the rest of the set, which ended with Taylor Windego deftly tipping the ball in the face of a Kiss net attack that couldn’t come up with the block.
In a switch from the rest of the match, Kiss took the lead in the opening stages of the fifth set and ­held it all the way through the change-over at 8-7.
Neither team scored more than two points in a row to close out the match, which climaxed when Allen pulled off another tip shot that Kiss lunged at in vain but got only a piece of the ball before it ricocheted away.
After the match, the league handed out its Most Sportswomanlike Award for the season to Mel Jones from Bump It Up.
Other nominees included April Whitecrow (Scared Hitless), Carol Geyshick (Bump It Up), Linda Allen (Bump It Up), Sam Kabatay (Arm & Hammer), Rachelle Yeo (Rockstars), Marah Trivers (Rockstars), LaRae Watson (Gillons’), Chantal Jodoin (Gillons’), Michelle Beck (One Hit Wonders), Jess Taggart (Let’s Talk About Sets), Shannon King (Let’s Talk About Sets), and Laureen Peters (No Diggity).
Peters recently announced she is stepping down after several years of serving as league president, with the search for a new one currently underway.
The final event of the local adult volleyball season will be the Struchan Gilson Memorial tournament set for May 6 at Fort High.
The tourney has been downsized to a one-day affair rather than its usual two-day schedule in years past.