The Central Alberta Queens U17 Girls were crowned volleyball royalty this week at the Volleyball Canada National Championships in Edmonton.
The Queens rolled through the competition at the Saville Centre over three days. They had a sweep in round robin, another three straight match wins in the power pool before winning another three en route to the gold medal in Division 2 Tuesday afternoon.
They knocked off the South Peace Volleyball Club Blizzard in two sets (26-24, 25-16) to earn the Tier 1 Championship victory.
“Solid team affair,” Queens head coach Jeff Anderson said.
“Wasn’t that we were relying on one position to get us through… But, we were doing a really good job as a team to continue to be dynamic. That was our true foundation for success. Getting that first pass so we could run a dynamic offence, so teams couldn’t key on our left side. That’s a credit to the whole group to get that job done.”
Anderson said in the final, after falling behind 6-0 in the first set, it took some motivation to his team back on track. He issued a challenge to his group during a timeout that appeared to resonate with them as they climbed back into the match.
“As a coach, it makes your heart so happy,” said Anderson of the response by his team.
(I told them) you gotta dig down deep. It’s right there in your belly. You have the fire burning in your belly and do you want to leave today, after these three long days with a silver medal?
“Then keep doing what you’re doing. If not, we’re going to start doing the little things and taking it one point at a time like we always do and turn it around.”
Team members included Taylor Fuller, Chenee Lehman, Kennedy Shooter, Natalie Vega, Searra Schoepfner, Jaiden Ferguson, Kaitlyn Bowe, Riley de Wit, Jamie Lalor and Jade Sinnamon.
The Queens were in Division 2 at nationals after a less than stellar showing at provincials earlier this month. Division 2 is the second best group of 32 U17 girls volleyball club teams in Canada. Anderson said that made them more determined than ever to come away with gold at Nationals.
Anderson added that after such a successful tournament, many of his players were approached about their future plans in volleyball.
“All those girls have been approached in some manner or form about what they want to do in two years,” he said.
“That makes me excited as well that they have options that they can do with their education depending on what they want to do and play.”
He noted watching the team come together over the course of six months this season was a long journey and he was proud to see his entire starting lineup emerge as leaders. Those experiences throughout the year– the highs and lows will serve them well in the future.
“The real leadership on the team– my entire starting group are incredible leaders that are going to go back to their schools and be rock stars again and hopefully come back for the U18 season and continue on their volleyball journey,” Anderson said.