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Mexico native Sarah Melendez heads to her first Volleyfest with Corner Brook Regional High Titans

Sarah Melendez poses for a photo as volleyball practice goes on behind her on Tuesday evening at the Corner Brook Regional High gymnasium.
Sarah Melendez poses for a photo as volleyball practice goes on behind her on Tuesday evening at the Corner Brook Regional High gymnasium. - Chris Quigley

Snow fell in Corner Brook earlier this week, met with a collective groan from many city residents.

Sarah Melendez was not among that group.

“I was so excited,” she said, smiling. “This is my first time with snow.”

The 18-year-old native of León, Guanajuato, Mexico has been warned by her Corner Brook Regional High classmates that the wee bit of snowfall the city has seen so far doesn’t really qualify, compared with what’s to come, but she was ecstatic nonetheless.

It’s just one of the many differences she has experienced in her just-over two months living in the city. She came here to practice her English, get to know new people and new traditions … oh, and to play volleyball.

The last one wasn’t necessarily a goal, but a hope, that came to fruition when she made the Titans 4A senior girls volleyball team after a nerve-wracking tryout process.

“I thought I wasn’t going to make it,” she admits.

Her game is solid, though, as she’s been playing since she was in the fourth grade back in Mexico. Though it’s not as renowned as soccer is in that country, it’s still a fairly big sport and she took to it immediately.

“I wanted to try something new and when I started I like it a lot,” she said. “I was like, ‘This is my sport. I love this.’”

She considers the calibre of volleyball the Titans are playing to be about the same as what she’s accustomed to and believes a game between her current team and her team back home would be a “really good” one.

Melendez, who plays the power position, where she finishes off a lion’s share of the scoring plays, will be experiencing another first this weekend as she and the Titans head to Volleyfest, the large, annual tournament that, this year, will see 178 teams in 11 divisions featuring 19 tiers play on 30 courts in St. John’s, Mount Pearl and the surrounding area. It is the largest school-based volleyball tournament in Canada and will have over 2,300 athletes, 2,000 spectators, 350 coaches, 80 officials and 24 conveners throughout the event.

For someone visiting Canada for the first time, a chance to travel across the province is amazing enough. The fact she’ll be participating in a massive volleyball tournament is simply a bonus.

She doesn’t know a whole lot about St. John’s, or the east coast of the province in general, obviously, but she does know a capable volleyball team when she sees one.

That’s why she believes the Titans could do quite well this weekend.

“We’re getting to know each other and have really good communication on the court,” she said.

The Titans begin play 4 p.m. Friday at the Field House Hardwood versus Exploits Valley High.

Meanwhile, the Titans have 18U, 17U, and 16U squads joining Pasadena Academy in the Senior High Female B division; while Deer Lake’s Elwood High compete in the Senior High Female C bracket.

Corner Brook Regional High will also see action in the Senior High Male A division.

In junior high play, the Corner Brook Intermediate Storm are represented in the Grade 7, Grade 8 and Grade 9 girls divisions; while the boys divisions see Corner Brook Intermediate and Pasadena Academy competing in Grade 9, with Corner Brook also playing in the Grade 7 bracket.

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