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Gaining Momentum: local volleyball club brings home first provincial gold

Victoria's Momentum Volleyball launched six years ago with a goal of teaching the sport differently

Sports
Features

Gaining Momentum: local volleyball club brings home first provincial gold

Victoria's Momentum Volleyball launched six years ago with a goal of teaching the sport differently

Victoria's Momentum Volleyball's 18U team took home the club's first ever gold at the recent BC Provincial Championships. Photo submitted
Victoria's Momentum Volleyball's 18U team took home the club's first ever gold at the recent BC Provincial Championships. Photo submitted
Sports
Features

Gaining Momentum: local volleyball club brings home first provincial gold

Victoria's Momentum Volleyball launched six years ago with a goal of teaching the sport differently

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Gaining Momentum: local volleyball club brings home first provincial gold
Victoria's Momentum Volleyball's 18U team took home the club's first ever gold at the recent BC Provincial Championships. Photo submitted

Just two points separated Victoria’s Momentum Volleyball and Ducks Bryan in the final set of the tier 1 gold medal game at the recent BC club volleyball Provincial Championships.

The local 18U team had been maintaining a tight lead with just one point needed, and the girls could feel the win in their grasp, but they were fighting to stay focused.

As the ball flew back to their side of the court, Momentum blockers jumped up with practiced timing to block the hit, sending the ball speeding back past the opposing team’s players to the ground.

The scoreboard hadn’t even changed before the whole team rushed onto the court, crying, and collapsing onto the floor in a group hug.

“It was really big. I was so proud. I think I was sobbing, like I was so excited for our team,” said Olivia Andulajevic, Momentum’s libero and one of the team’s captains. “The whole season, we had worked so hard.”

This win has been six years in the making. In the club’s first year in 2016 they had just three teams, all of them 12 to 14 years old. As those kids grew, so did the club, adding its first 18U team just this season.

“It feels like we’re creating a bit of a legacy behind us,” said Olivia Boulding, also a team captain and an outside hitter. Boulding, along with Andulajevic and two other teammates, has been with Momentum since its very first season; many of the other players on the team have been a part of the club for four or five years.

“We were one of the first teams for Momentum. And it’s pretty cool that we also get to be one of the first teams to win a banner,” she said. “It’s almost unreal. All the girls have worked so hard, and it’s cool to see each other blossom over the past few years.”

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The idea for Momentum was born around a kitchen table more than six years ago, co-founder and coach Chris Dahl said. He and some like-minded friends wanted to create a cohesive program that focused on players’ long-term development in the sport, including getting South Island kids started in club volleyball sooner.

Players’ experiences can vary drastically from team to team, Dahl said, from the coaching methods, to language, terminology, and style of play. With Momentum, he wanted players to be taught in the same way throughout their time with the club so they can focus on improving at the sport rather than learning a new way of training and playing each year.

“We believe that those things should be consistent and should scaffold upon each other,” Dahl said. “We tick these boxes and make sure athletes have the opportunity to acquire these new skills, to refine skills that they’ve been exposed to before… And then the next year, we build upon that.”

The club has continued to grow since 2016—that is, until 2020 when the pandemic shut down organized sports across the country. Gyms closed, practices were cancelled, and competition organizers pulled the plug.

That fall, when gyms were reopened with restrictions, Momentum welcomed back a smaller roster of players to restart training, hoping that games would be back on. Modifications were made to the game, forcing players to maintain six feet of space from each other, and disallowing blockers and attackers from engaging directly at the net.

“Those familiar with the sport would be like, ‘Wow, well that’s barely starting to look like volleyball anymore,’” Dahl said.

Even as competitions were cancelled for a second year, the players still trained and still worked hard. For Andulajevic, training brought some normalcy and a chance to see her friends. It also gave her an opportunity to push herself to meet new goals without the pressure of competing.

“Although it was mentally tough, I think playing through that and getting to practice through that was super helpful towards the development of our team and our club as a whole,” she said.

Dahl said he would be remiss in crediting the program alone for the 18U team’s success, adding that there are exceptionally talented individuals on the team, and the program aimed to give them the space to develop their skills over time. The players’ dedication and love of sport, Dahl said, has brought this success to the club.

For Andulajevic, the team is like a family, and the pandemic only brought them closer. Being so close off the court helps them play their best on the court, she said.

Anduljavic and Boulding are graduating this year and preparing for a summer with Team BC before heading off to play volleyball at Thompson Rivers University and the University of Montana, respectively.

They both agree that Momentum has shaped them into better volleyball players, but also the people they are today. As coaches for younger teams, they’ve learned leadership skills; as players, they’ve learned teamwork; and as people they’ve learned work ethic and time management. They’re also leaving with lifelong friendships.

But they’re not done with Momentum quite yet. Next stop, over the May long weekend: nationals.

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Gaining Momentum: local volleyball club brings home first provincial gold
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