Cougars 3 Lightning 0
The Notre Dame Cougars senior girls volleyball team is off to provincials after beating the Lindsay Thurber Raiders 3-0 Friday at Notre Dame to win the 4A zone playdowns with a 2-0 record.
While Cougars swept aside the Raiders, it was anything but an easy match for Chris Wandler’s team as they won 25-23, 25-15, 26-25. In fact if it hadn’t been for a few key performances off the bench it could have been a much different story.
“Lindsay Thurber teams don’t give up, they never do. They’re one of the hardest working teams in the province — I’ve always had that respect for Lindsay Thurber,” said Wandler.
“It’s important for us to go ahead and beat a team like Lindsay Thurber that plays on lots of guts and determination. It’s hard to play against teams like that and we obviously had a tough time with that, but we found a will and a way.”
The first hit the Cougars took was when their starting left side Laura MacTaggart was a no-go for the match as she came down with the flu. In stepped Grade 12 under study Kaitlyn Meador and she didn’t skip a beat with eight kills, five digs and a solid night of passing.
“She played really well,” said Wandler. “She passed the ball really well, she made a lot of good decisions at the net and filled in quite admirably for (MacTaggart).”
The Cougars then found themselves lagging far behind in the third set 17-8, when second string setter Bronwyn Hawkes stepped up to the service line and sent Notre Dame on an eight-point run.
“She really kick-started us to get going and made some key digs and key serves to really start our run that last little bit in the third set to win 26-24,” said Wandler.
Raiders head coach Barb Young says they looked good early but their youth caught up to them.
“We started out strong in the sets and were leading for most of the first and third sets, but being a young team we came up short and were not able to win set points.
“At some critical times in the match — especially the third set — our passing broke down making it difficult to have an effective attack.”
Not only does winning zones mean the Cougars will be joining the host Hunting Hills Lightning at the 4A provincials this Thursday, but it should also mean a jump up in the rankings from sixth place.
It also marks the end of an era as the Raiders will miss provincials for the first time in more than a decade.
“I want to give kudos to (LTCHS coaches) Barb and Kirsten (Dezutter),” said Wandler. “The team that they had, they brought them a long way over the course of the season and they did a tremendous job with a very young team.”
Raiders 3 Cougars 2
The Lindsay Thurber Senior Boys Volleyball team host 4A provincials next week but didn’t let their automatic bye into the event get in the way of winning a zone championship with a 3-2 (15-25, 25-15, 25-19, 25-27, 15-9) win over the Notre Dame Cougars Friday at Lindsay Thurber High School.
“We are proud that we were able to earn our berth and not just get in because we are hosting,” said Raiders head coach Terence McMullen. “It will be a tough tournament, but both Central Zone reps should be able to make a splash and challenge the top teams in the province.”
The Raiders will be joined by the Hunting Hills Lightning who finished zones with a 1-1 record.
The match was tight all the way through as the Raiders had trouble solving the Cougars’ Jon Goransen.
“He was a monster in the middle for Notre Dame,” said McMullen. “He basically was only stopped if he made an error or hit a roll shot that we dug.”
The Cougars, however, turned the tide with their service game in the second and third sets and then finished strong in the fifth and deciding frame.
“In every set the team that controlled the first contact, controlled the pace of the set and ended up winning it,” said McMullen.