Millcreek Philly

V-ball tourney no one-hit wonder

There won’t be any monkey business going on in Falher next weekend when 12 mixed volleyball teams are expected to literally go bananas over the return of the 7th Annual Guy-Rillas Tournament Of The Apes.
“It’s a really intense and awesome tournament which often attracts former college and university volleyball players,” says Joline Maisonneuve, tournament organizer.
The Jan. 19 to 20 tournament is expected to draw a virtual smorgasbord of talent with the majority of clubs originating outside of the Smoky River region.
That includes two squads from Grande Prairie, Spirit River and Edmonton as well as one team from High Prairie, High Level and Peace River in addition to two local clubs.
And while the chemistry of these clubs may differ slightly from one team to another on paper, the one trait they all share is a common desire for competitive fun and a willingness to win – two key ingredients which have helped make the Tournament Of The Apes a success.
Maisonneuve says one of the best aspects of the tournament is the parody among teams.
In the past, this trend has resulted in some exceptional volleyball action and extremely tight games.
“Most of the games are really intense and are decided by five points or less,” she said, adding that no team has managed to win the tournament in back-to-back years.
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“There’s never one team that totally dominates. It’s always close right to the end.”
Maisonneuve, who coached the Ecole Heritage senior boys volleyball team this year, said her decision to launch the tournament back in 1996 was a direct spin-off of her active involvement in sports while growing up.
“My brother and I used to go to Guy to play drop-in badminton, but there was never nothing going on in terms of volleyball. That’s when we decided to try and set up the tournament.”
Since that time there’s been no looking back as over the years teams from both near and far have continued to knock on Maisonneuve’s door for a shot at being a part of the annual action.
She says it’s all part of a massive sharing process with teams continuing to make a commitment by supporting one another at each of their respective home tournaments. The end result has been some exceptional volleyball on the courts.
“This tournament has always maintained a reputation from day one for being extremely competitive. The caliber of play is a lot higher than say high school volleyball, but slightly less than college,” she said, adding that it’s not an event for occasional players.
“Some of the men and women who compete in this tournament hit very hard. It’s just phenomenal.”
The mixed volleyball tournament kicks off Saturday morning at 9 a.m. with round-robin play and continues on through the day until 7 p.m. with a complimentary lunch prepared by Ecole Heritage school parents being served from 12 p.m. noon to 1 p.m.
“It’s (the meal) just something I ask for in return for volunteering as a coach,” she said, adding that the support from parents has always been fantastic.
Action resumes the following morning at 10 a.m., leading up to the playoffs, which are taking place later that afternoon.
Each team is guaranteed six games, which includes an automatic appearance in the opening round of the playoffs.
Maisonneuve says they are still looking for one more to compete in the tournament, which is played under AVA (Alberta Volleyball Association) rules including libero. A minimum of two women are required on the court at all times.
The entry fee is $250 per team. That includes a Guy-Rillas T-Shirt, the costs of having carded referees and all extras for Saturday’s lunch. The remainder of the funds will be distributed to the top two teams following the completion of the playoffs.
Admission to the tournament is free, says Maisonneuve, who is encouraging residents to check out the action.
“We would especially love to see people come out for Sunday’s final at 4 p.m. They won’t be disappointed.”
For more information, contact Maisonneuve at 925-2133 or 837-2672.