It’s their last chance at a Volleyball Canada national title, and the Central Alberta Queens Club U18 girls are up for the challenge.
In the last two trips to the nationals, the Queens finished in 13th and ninth place, now they are shooting for a top-five finish in Division 1 in Edmonton this weekend.
“It’s just a culmination of three seasons together with Miles (Kydd). Regardless of what happens, I think it’s going to be absolutely amazing and we’re hoping to place as high as we can,” said Sam Gagnon, a Queens’ outside hitter and a Grade 12 student at Notre Dame High School.
“Our goal was top five, (but) podium would be amazing. I think win or lose, whatever we place, I’ll be happy to have one last weekend with these girls.”
The majority of the group has been together for the last three years, with almost all of them moving on to post-secondary education next year and many playing at the university or college level.
Captain Jade Bussard and Gagnon will suit up for the University of British Columbia-Okanagan next season, while some like Jessica Ozsczevski will play closer to home at Mount Royal University.
Ozsczevski, from Rocky Mountain House, is in her first year with the Queens but has garnered a close connection with her new group and thinks that will help at nationals.
“I’m just looking forward to ending off on a high note,” said Ozsczevski. “We had a really good season, so I’m looking forward to getting all the way to the top and finishing strong. I’ve never played on a team at this level before. It’s awesome to see how we’ve come together and how far we’ve come. It’s been really good.”
Several of the girls, including Emma Holmes, will play for the RDC Queens next season.
The CA Queens are the Alberta 2 team at Nationals that get underway Saturday, after losing to the Calgary Dinos at the Volleyball Alberta Division 1 Provincial Championships earlier this month.
“We’re definitely not the biggest team out there– small but mighty. We have so much passion and heart and there’s not one girl I wouldn’t trust my life with,” Gagnon added.
“We’re such a tight-knit group and it’s been so much fun. I never want to leave when I’m with these girls. I think that helps a lot. We have the fire to compete and we’re super confident– we know what we can do and what we’re capable of. We don’t let anything slow us down.”
Several other local volleyball teams are also in the hunt for a national title on the weekend, including the Red Deer Ice U14 (Division 3), Central Alberta Kings U15 (Division 1), Kings U16 (Division 1), Central Alberta Queens U16 and Ponoka Warriors (Division 3), Lacombe Crush U16 (Division 4), Kings U17 (Division 1), Ponoka Warriors and Queens U17 (Division 2), and Kings U18 (Division 1). You can follow the action live at www.iset.net/tournament/2251#/
Email sports tips to Byron Hackett
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