Lindsay Thurber Raiders middle Spencer Purdie hits a ball past Daniel Humbke in the CASAA 4A volleyball semifinal at Lindsay Thurber on Tuesday. (Photo by BYRON HACKETT/Advocate Staff)

High School 4A zone volleyball finals set for Thursday

The Lindsay Thurber Raiders kept their regular season rolling going in the Central Alberta Schools Athletic Association volleyball playoffs.

After an almost two-week layoff in league play, the top-ranked Raiders showed no rust in a three-set sweep (25-16, 25-18, 25-17) over the fourth seed Lacombe Rams in the 4A zone semifinal.

Raiders coach Terence McMullen said other than some trouble in the second set, his group played steady and executed when they needed to.

“In the second set the passing wasn’t very good and we got a little bit ahead of ourselves. Lacombe just did a good job of coming out and playing. In the second set they just decided they were going to go for things and they went for it,” he said.

“They put us in some trouble there, but other than that we played pretty consistently and did what we’re supposed to do.”

The other semifinal was a punch, counter-punch battle between the Hunting Hills Lighting and Notre Dame Cougars.

Hunting Hills opened up with a victory in the first set (25-21) before the Cougars clawed back to win the next two (25-21,25-23). The Lightning offense dialed it up a notch and won the fourth set 25-17 and looked to be in control.

Heading into the fifth, Cougars coach A.J. Mahoney had some simple advice for his group and it paid off.

“We got some momentum back after losing the fourth and the conversation was let’s just do what we can do. Honestly, at this point everything is a bonus for us,” Mahoney said.

“We’re a group that maybe wasn’t expected to go very far because of our inexperience and the guys have proven they’ve put in the time and they’re good players.”

Notre Dame went up 4-0 in the fifth, then 8-4 at the changeover. Although they let up a tiny Lightning run, the defending zone champs won 15-11 and booked their spot in the zone final and a chance to defend their title.

“Hunting Hills has a great group. They’ve been through a lot over the last couple of years and I expected them to give us a fight from start to finish and that’s exactly what they did,” said Mahoney.

“I’m really proud of my guys. We’re a young group and it wasn’t always a guarantee that we were going to pull through. We came into that last set and decided, let’s have no regrets tonight and see what we can do and they really executed when we needed it.”

In the women’s CASAA semis in Lacombe, the top-seeded Hunting Hills Lightning needed just three sets to dispatch the Rams. The third-ranked Lindsay Thurber Raiders advanced to the final with a three-set victory over the second seed Notre Dame Cougars.

Tuesday, the league also announced its all-stars. The women’s all-stars included Shynelle Woroniuk (ND)- Left side, Avery Burgar (HH)- Left side, Taylor LeRoux (HH)- Right side, Kennedy Shooter (ND)- Middle, Abigail Wilson (LT)- Middle, Megan Kelley (LT)- Setter and Camyrn Martinez (HH)- Libero.

On the men’s side, all-stars were Colby Nemeth (LT)- Left side, Josh Gagnon (LT) – Left side, Brett Lower (LT)- Right side, Spencer Purdie (LT)- Middle, Cody Noble (LT)- Middle, Jacob Hicks (LT)- Setter and Jonah Langlois (LT)- Libero.

The CASAA best-of-three zone final is set to start Thursday. Notre Dame will host the men’s zone final, with play starting at 6 p.m. Hunting Hills will host the women’s final at 6 p.m. Friday, Lindsay Thurber will host a doubleheader, with the women’s game at 6 p.m. and the men to follow.

Email sports tips to Byron Hackett

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Lindsay Thurber Raiders outside hitter Brett Lower spikes a ball over top of Lacombe Rams blockers’ Lubenson Pannenbecker and Carter Hutchinson in the CASAA 4A volleyball semifinal at Lindsay Thurber on Tuesday. (Photo by BYRON HACKETT/Advocate Staff)

Hunting Hills Lightning hitter Gavin Walters hits a ball over the Notre Dame Cougars block in in the CASAA 4A volleyball semifinal at Lindsay Thurber on Tuesday. (Photo by BYRON HACKETT/Advocate Staff)

Notre Dame Cougars hitter Tate Howell tries to found a hole through a tight Hunting Hills Lightning block in the CASAA 4A volleyball semifinal at Lindsay Thurber on Tuesday. (Photo by BYRON HACKETT/Advocate Staff)

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