Merritt Misfits left their mark in provincial volleyball debut during the last weekend of April.

The local U13 girls team participated for the first time at the Volleyball BC Provincials on April 26 to 28, which were hosted in Abbotsford. 

Over 200 teams competed at the volleyball provincials, which hosted U13 boys and girls teams as well as U14 boys and girls teams over the weekend.

Gian Cavaliere, coach of the Merritt Misfits, sums up their first time participating in the provincial tournament as exciting.

“I think at the beginning, the girls were definitely, you know, a little bit in shock, you could say and it’s a bit exciting to be a part of such a big tournament,” he said. “For the club volleyball season, especially our youth 13 level, this is the pinnacle. This is what you play towards, this is where you want to be.”

At the end of the tournament, Merritt Misfits placed eighth out of 18 teams within their division, meeting the goal they set for themselves.

“We were playing in Division 3, which was the right division for our team in our first year. And, you know what, we were competitive. We hung in there,” Cavaliere added. “There were so many spectators who had never heard of us before, because there’s no team from Merritt that has played club in over 25 years, so they were excited to have a very small town playing in these provincials.”

Cavaliere added that the Misfits were the team representing the smallest town with a club team in the competition.

“We’re pretty happy with how we played. The girls really have come a long way,” the coach added. “We’ve had spectators who have seen us play before this tournament come to us and see how much we’ve improved. The parents were really impressed with how we’ve improved, so it’s been a really great experience, not only coach them, but get to know these girls at a more personal level and share in that experience with them.”

Last weekend, on May 4, the club hosted a volleyball clinic in partnership with athletes from UBC Okanagan to instruct kids from grade four to grade nine. 

“The club is gonna go ahead and run a camp in the summer, a two- or three-day camp for all youth,” Cavaliere said.

The coach added that the goal is to keep on expanding the Misfits brand, following the U13 girls team success this first year. 

“My goal is to build the program more. The first year was a success, I feel like the Misfits brand, people are trying to get to know about. So now my goal is to get more coaches on board,” Cavaliere said. “Next year, I want to offer more teams, whether it’s a U12 girls team or U14 girls team. I want to also add boys teams, so if we can get some coaches, I would love to have at least two Misfits team next year or even three.”

“Hopefully, we build a full fledged program where we have boys and girls teams for almost every age group and have them out competing and just building that fun Misfits brand.”

The Merritt Misfits will participate in a one-day tournament in Chilliwack on May 12 to wrap up their volleyball season.