Cougars can't hold off veteran Lightning squad
Notre Dame Cougars head coach AJ Mahoney believes he has all the ingredients to be a strong contender for the Central Alberta High School boys’ 4A volleyball title.
What his squad needs is to refine a couple of things before the zone playoffs in November.
“I believe we have strong defence, good hitters, in fact all the pieces are there, but they need to be fitted together properly,” he said following a 21-25, 22-25, 26-24, 14-25 loss to the Hunting Hills Lightning in Central Alberta League play Monday at Notre Dame.
“Hunting Hills has so many returning players they’re mentally tougher than we are, but that’s fine,” said Mahoney. “We got a chance to see where we’re at and we’re learning some tough lessons which will make us that much stronger later.”
Mahoney has six returnees on his roster, with middle Daimyn Biletsky in Grade 11. The other veterans are all in Grade 12.
Outside hitter Austin Engel and libero Jason Garrett are co-captains with Quinn Kryzanowski at setter, Mike Pinkney on the right side and Ben Testroete on the outside.
Michael Pearce, who is starting in the middle, is the only Grade 10 on the roster. The remaining five players are all in Grade 11. Eric Jensen, Bennett Bolen and Rayden Crawley are all listed as outside hitters with Colton Bodwell at setter and Nolan Bruin at libero.
The Cougars are ranked ninth in the province among 4A schools with Hunting Hills fifth and Lindsay Thurber seventh. Yet only one team from Central Alberta will qualify for the provincials.
“That’s tough as we have such strong volleyball in this area, but you can’t fight the system,” said Mahoney. “Right now we’re a bit behind, but we have a lot of volleyball remaining and we’ll work on some of the little things that will make a difference in the end.”
Despite the win, Lightning head coach Adam Scillery wasn’t thrilled with his team.
“Not our best,” he said. “But then we played all weekend which took something out of us. We can be better.”
In other senior action in Ponoka the LTCHS Raiders beat the Broncs 25-21, 27-25, 25-19.
In JV play Notre Dame downed the Lightning 26-24, 25-16, 25-21 while LTCHS stopped Ponoka 25-9, 17-25, 25-18, 25-11.