By TIM HOWARD
IT doesn't say it on the scoresheet, but Grafton High School girl's open volleyball team are winners in the eyes of coach Patty Wortley.
The team, which only came together as a unit in February, lost the North Coast final to Alstonville yesterday in three tight sets, 26-24, 25-13, 25-23 at the Grafton Regional Sports and Entertainment Centre.
Wortley, a Canadian on a teaching exchange, was delighted with her inexperienced team's performance.
"Seven of the team (of 12) had never played volleyball before this year," she said.
Two of Wortley's daughters, triplets Nicky and Ada, played in the team, while their brother, Kris, the third triplet, a member of the Grafton High boys team that was knocked out in the earlier rounds, helped out at practice.
The Grafton High girls won their way to the final with wins over South Grafton High, Dorrigo, Woolgoolga and Camden Haven.
"It was a great effort from such a young team," Wortley said.
"Against a much bigger, more experienced team, they almost got there.
Wortley used her experience coaching volleyball in Canada with the Grafton High team.
"They've come a long way in such a short time," she said.
"Their skills have improved so much and they've developed their team spirit and team work. I'm very proud of them."