Cougars making most of tournaments
Notre Dame Cougars coach Sherry Schulzke is convinced that her senior girls volleyball team is better for having competed in four tournaments this season.
Meanwhile, no one in the Central Alberta High School League has to be reminded of just how good the Cougars are.
“It’s nice to be playing some of the top teams in the province in our tournament,” Schulzke said on Saturday, prior to her squad taking on provincially No. 1 ranked William Aberhart of Calgary in the girls final of the Cougar Classic.
“The more exposure we can get to top teams the better we’re going to play, whether we win or lose.”
The Cougars came out on the short end of the final, taking the first game of the best-of-five 25-23 but then falling 10-25, 20-25, 18-25.
Notre Dame finished first in the six-team round-robin, posting a perfect 5-0 record that included a 25-21, 25-23 win over William Aberhart. The Cougars also defeated Calgary E.P. Scarlett 26-27, 25-15, 15-2, downed Paul Kane of St. Albert 25-11, 25-11, swept Stony Plain Memorial 25-15, 25-22 and closed out with a 25-12, 22-25, 15-13 victory over Edmonton Ross Sheppard, ranked second in the province.
Notre Dame then downed Memorial 25-17, 25-14, 25-19 in a best-of-five semifinal, while Aberhart took care of Ross Sheppard 21-25, 25-18, 25-20, 25-21 in the other semifinal.
Middle blocker Nicole Dube was the Notre Dame player of the match in the championship final.
The Cougars ran their record to 7-0 in league play with a 3-0 (25-23, 30-28, 25-17) win over the Lacombe Rams last week. In other tournament play this year, Notre Dame took top honours in the Red Deer College event, placed second at the University of Alberta tourney and fourth at Spruce Grove.
The Cougars will also compete in the Lindsay Thurber Raiders tournament on Friday and Saturday and the Hunting Hills tournament Nov. 2-3.
Schulzke and Megan Boulanger are in their first year as the Notre Dame senior girls coaches, taking over from long-time head coach Chris Wandler who is now handling the women’s program at Olds College.
Schulzke, who took last season off after coaching the Cougars senior boys team for three years, is blessed with a strong roster that includes Laura MacTaggart, a power hitter with the Canadian junior national team this past summer.
“She’s a strong player and a good leader, one of our co-captains with (power) Kendra Sorensen,” said Schulzke. “The experience she has she’s brought to the team and that has helped us a lot.”
The Cougars, currently ranked fifth in Alberta, have their sights set on returning to the provincial championship tournament Nov. 22-24 at Lethbridge.
Notre Dame finished fifth last year.
“I would like to hope that we will be going to provincials. That’s the goal for the girls,” said Schulzke.
For now . . .
“We want to continue working on our blocking and be more of a presence in the front row,” said the coach. “Our strength is we have two strong powers and our middles are starting to step up to the plate.”
Sorensen, MacTaggart and first-year middle Dube are Grade 12 players, as are left side Madison Holland, setter Rebecca Burnand, right side Amy Anderson and middle Emily Elkins, all returnees. The other first-year players are left side Kelsie Caine, power Kyrstin Sandstrom, setter Madison Schmidt, right side Jenna Soroka and middle Brynna Maloughney, all of whom are Grade 11s.
l A team from Nyborg, Norway claimed the championship on the boys side of the Cougar Classic, downing William Aberhart 25-16, 25-20, 25-21 in the final.
In semifinal play, the Norwegians defeated Notre Dame 25-11, 28-26, 25-23, while Aberhart needed four games to oust E.P. Scarlett.
The Cougars finished 1-2 and in third place in their four-team pool, defeating Ross Sheppard 25-16, 24-26, 15-12 and losing 22-25, 23-25 to Aberhart and 21-25, 21-25 to the Norwegians.
The visitors from Nyborg swept Memorial 3-0 in the quarter-finals. Meanwhile, Notre Dame slipped past Paul Kane 3-2 (15-25, 25-14, 25-19, 23-25, 15-11), E.P. Scarlett beat Ross Sheppard 3-1 and Aberhart was a 3-0 winner over Calgary Bishop O’Byrne.