Serve, set, dig, spike

Kenn Oliver
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1,800 athletes, 1,200 games, 25 venues: that's VolleyFest, which begins Friday

When Newfoundland and Labrador Volleyball Association Executive Director Russ Jackson says it will take the full full capacity association's to run this weekend's VolleyFest 2008, he's not kidding.
Starting Friday after school, in excess of 1,200 games governed by 75 officials will be played by over 1,800 players in 25 venues across the greater St. John's area.
"We have a pretty great executive with the association and pretty much everybody involved is probably coaching, officiating, or a convenor in the tournament," explains Jackson.
VolleyFest, which got its start over a decade ago and has since doubled in size and scope, "kicks off the rankings this season for where teams finish for school sports," says Jackson adding there is a division for "more or less every athlete in every school in the province."
The tournament is broken down into nine divisions, with senior high schools divided into an "A" and "B" division for males and "A", "B", and "C" for females to accommodate multiple entries from one school.
"A lot of schools usually put two teams in, so we'll put one in 'A' and one in 'B', which is the only opportunity they'll get to do that all year," Jackson said. "And on top of that, we do offer a grade nine, grade eight, and grade seven division."
"Every year we're growing with regards to the size of the tournament, and every year it gets tougher."
One thing that will be easier this year is bringing the teams together for the playoff rounds. In previous years semifinals and finals were spread out to double court facilities across the city. For 2008, the senior divisions will collapse on the Field House at Memorial University while the junior divisions will collapse on the new Newfoundland and Labrador Sports Centre, the Power Plex, on Crosbie Road. Both locations are six-court facilities.
Other locations being used include Brother Rice, Bishop's College, McDonald Drive and Mount Pealr Intermediate's double courts, as well as Marine Institute, Booth, Mount Pearl Senior Hih and Beaconsfield.
"The big feature this year is the two main hubs where all the kids can go to watch all the semifinals and finals at once. It's going to make quite a difference for everybody to be in the same spot to watch."
And when they're finished watching or competing in championship games at the Field House and the Power Plex, VolleyFest participants will be able to purchase tickets - at a special rate - for the Memorial Sea-Hawks men's and women's volleyball season openers.
"Last year we had to turn 150 to 200 people away," says Jackson.
As always, Jackson says it's important to point out the valuable contribution by Beresford Ltd. The sports paraphernalia and promotional products company has helped develop the tournment over the years and supply banners and the much sought after championship t-shirts.
Links to schedules and scores can be found on the association's website (nlva.net).
Games get underway Friday at 3:30 p.m. in various locations and continue again Saturday morning at 8:30. Playoffs begin near 4:30 p.m. And as always, games are open to the public and admission is free.

koliver@thetelegram.com

Organizations: Newfoundland and Labrador Volleyball Association, Field House, Power Plex Newfoundland and Labrador Sports Centre Marine Institute Beresford

Geographic location: St. John's, Crosbie Road

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