As the ball floated towards the floor, time slowed to a crawl.
Justin Theriault’s serve carried the hopes of the Central Alberta Kings Volleyball Club U15 team over the net and when it landed on the Canada West side of the court, mayhem.
That shot clinched a gold medal victory in the Volleyball Alberta Provincials for the Kings on Sunday at the Gary W. Harris Canada Games Centre, in a final, that was not for the faint of heart.
“Canada West is a pretty strong team. We have a good matchup against them. We’ve seen them in the final in the past. It was a game of up and downs. Full of emotion. Kids were playing for each other and that’s what makes us a good team,” said Kings head coach Geoff Trentham.
The Kings dropped the opening set of the championship game against Canada West out of Calgary, but stormed back in the second and led 17-9. They faltered from there, falling behind 21-19, but eventually clawed back to win 25-22.
In the third and deciding set, CAKVC trailed 8-6 at the cross-over before again battling back to take a 10-9 advantage. They fell behind 12-10 and 14-12, only to once again close the gap and tie the game at 14. They rattled off two straight points and in an instant, became provincial champions on home court.
“I think we just really came together at the end. First set we started off a little shakey. But we came together as a group. Got some big blocks and got the momentum going, finished it out,” said Kings player Luke Weddell.
“We really just trust each other. We’re really close as a team and we relied on each other to finish the game.”
On home court, the tight-knit group never wavered in their belief, even as the weekend started rocky. They lost all three round-robin matches in a tough Pool A, only to work their way into the final with three straight playoff wins.
“We’ve been in that situation many times. These kids are clutch, they have big shoulders and are able to put the pressure on and wear it. We’ve proven that time and time again,” added Trentham.
“It was an up and down weekend all the way through. It’s about coming back on Sunday and creating things on Sunday, make sure we’re in control of things on our side of the court.”
Kings’ players Kolton Rawlusyk and Boris Berbic were also named tournament all-stars at the 16-team provincial championship.
The Kings winning roster included Berbic, Coen Good, Ben House, Tate Howell, Ethan LeMessurier, Rawlusyk, Justin Rix, Cole Saunders, Wade Stauffer, Theriault, Jax Wasylowich and Weddell. Assistant coaches were Grady Mawer and Kendal Schmidt.