Crossing nets, crossing borders

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CHAMPAIGN — A volleyball team came from Canada to learn how the sport is served in the states.

They’re competing in the Winter Classic Girls’ Tournament at the U of I this weekend.

To prepare, they met up with a central Illinois team to practice and learn new skills.

They came here not only for the chance to compete in the tournament, but also to find some new learning experiences.

A love for net goes a long way, at least it did for this Canadian team.
 
“Volleyball is volleyball. People who love it all have the same passion for it,” said team member Emma Hackett.
 
Hackett hails from Newfoundland.
 
Here in central Illinois, she got served a new opportunity to build her skills.
 
“In Canada, it’s completely different, and I mean we’re completely out of our zone right now, and it’s exciting to go up against these girls,” said Hackett.
 
“I was super excited to meet them, and they gave us little Canada pins,” said Ariel Zedric, on the Eastside Volleyball Club’s team.
 
Zedric is tight with her own team, but after getting to know Hackett’s, she said “it’s so similar yet so different and they’re all so much fun.”
 
The competition has a lot of games, and a lot of fun along the way…nut it’s not “fun and games.”
 
“There’s such a good chemistry between them. They all love each other and they’re all laughing all the time, and yet they still know to be serious. They’re not goofing off,” said Zedric.
 
But their coach, Nathan Wareham, was equally impressed with the Eastside girls.
 
“The level of ball from top to bottom is pretty hot. The compete level of teams stateside is phenomenal,” said Wareham.
 
He’s hoping this experience will eventually bump his team to the top.
 
“We’re building towards the Canada summer games, which is a junior Olympic event,” said Wareham.
 
For Eastside coach Todd Kielion, the experience came as quickly as the bonding did.
 
“I was really sad that we only got to train with them for a couple of days. So, I really wish we had a longer period,” said Kielion.
 
Kielion hopes this won’t be the last he’ll see of his team’s new Canadian comrades.
 
“I really hope that this is the start of something that we can continue doing and bringing them over to the states,” said Kielion.
 
The tournament started Saturday and continued Sunday.
 
The coaches told us if each team played well, they’d eventually play against each other.
 
The tournament is one of a series of ten high caliber volleyball events in central Illinois.
 
Future events will take place in Bloomington, Peoria, and east Peoria.

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