The Gabrielle Roy Les Roys junior varsity boys volleyball team made history Monday night at the Investors Group Athletic Centre on the campus of the University of Manitoba in south Winnipeg.
Les Roys defeated the Sisler Spartans 25-23, 25-23, 26-24 in their immensely entertaining back-and-forth final.
When the 26th point hit the floor in the third set, Gabrielle Roy became the first AA school to capture the Provincial AAAA Junior Varsity Boys Volleyball Championship.
"It's crazy,” exclaimed Les Roys left side Logan Barnabe after accepting congratulations from fellow Gabrielle Roy students and supporters. “We've came from AA, a little school outside the city. We came here and we were confident and knew we could win it. Obviously thanks to the fans. The fans were crazy. The atmosphere was wild. I think they helped us get a couple of points. They were a great part of it."
Barnabe also gave a huge shout-out to the Spartans.
"They're very good. I think we were lucky to beat them in three sets. They fought back hard. Every set was close, and it was great playing against them. It was an honor."
Gabrielle Roy’s left side Marek Goller and setter Colin Vermette were named All-Stars and Logan Barnabe was chosen the MVP.
"It's an honor being a part of all these great guys,” said Barnabe. “They're all great players. I was very lucky to be named MVP and it could have been anybody on our team."
Les Roys defeated Garden City & Daniel McIntyre and lost to the St. Paul’s Crusaders in the Power Pool round robin.
Gabrielle Roy head coach Dan Lother said his volleyball team was clutch in the playoffs.
"We played Glenlawn in the quarterfinals and it could have gone either way and then we played Daniel McIntyre, also a very well coached team and that game could have gone either way. That's just it at this level, especially this year, there seemed to be about eight-10 teams that on any given day were taking punches from each other, but we always seemed to be the ones that dug it out. I think we just have a group of winners and smart kids."
Gabrielle Roy beat Glenlawn 25-19, 25-22, 22-25, 25-23 in the quarterfinals and swept Daniel McIntyre 27-25, 26-24, 25-19 in the semifinals before knocking off Sisler in the championship game.
Les Roys' historic journey to winning the Provincial AAAA championship banner began when the team declared its intention to compete at a higher classification before the MHSAA’s October 13th deadline.
Gabrielle Roy went 10-0 in the Zone 13 South A/AA division, but it was in tournament play that Les Roys proved they were AAAA ready.
Gabrielle Roy defeated Steinbach Regional in the final of the Niverville Panthers tournament; beat the Louis Riel Voyageurs in the final of the Nighthawk Invitational in Winkler hosted by Northlands Parkway; lost to Garden City in the semifinals of the Mennonite Brethren tournament and then beat the Fighting Gophers a week later in the final of the River East Collegiate Invitational.
Les Roys received a well-earned automatic wildcard spot from the MHSAA for the provincials on November 18th.
The AA classification is for schools with an enrollment from 100-300 students.
Gabrielle Roy is at 275 this year while Sisler High School has 1725 students.
Les Roys captured the Provincial A/AA championship in 2018, 2019, 2021 & 2022.
Coach Lother explained why he took this Gabrielle Roy team to compete at the AAAA level.
"I think the core group has played a lot of volleyball already at grade 9 and 10 levels. They played a lot of club. Four or five of them have been playing club since they were 13 years old, so they've seen the city teams and city kids for four years. We felt that they were a little more prepared and we do a great job at the school getting the prepared. Lunch hour practices and we get the younger kids going early and that's how you build a program. It takes a lot of people. It's not only me. I'm the beneficiary of this. It's been a really great ride."
2023 Provincial Junior Varsity Boys AAAA volleyball champions
Gabrielle Roy Les Roys roster: Jamie Barnabe, Logan Barnabe, Nicholas Bartlette, Benoit Beaudry, Noah Cantin, Marek Goller, Kiel LaRochelle, Luca Manaigre, Riley McCabe, Zacharie Poirier, Cedric Saurette, Paxton Strong & Colin Vermette. Dan Lother (head coach) & Roger Turenne (assistant coach)