The Lindsay Thurber Raiders took on the Notre Dame Cougars Thursday night in the first game of the 4A Central Zone Championship Final. (Photo by Ian Gustafson/ Advocate staff)

The Lindsay Thurber Raiders took on the Notre Dame Cougars Thursday night in the first game of the 4A Central Zone Championship Final. (Photo by Ian Gustafson/ Advocate staff)

Lindsay Thurber Raiders take first game in Central Zone Championships

The Raiders can win it all Friday night

The Lindsay Thurber Raiders senior girls’ volleyball team is one win away from becoming central zone champions.

On Thursday night the Raiders completed a clean 3-0 sweep of the Notre Dame Cougars in game one of the 4A Central Zone Championship Final at Notre Dame High School.

The first set was the closest of them all but Thurber pulled away late to win 25-20. In the second and third sets, the Cougars remained close throughout but the Raiders came out on top in both once again 25-16 and 25-18.

Raiders head coach Kirsten DeZutter said her team executed very well and gave credit to their opponent for a tough match.

“It was a great competition I think between both teams… We did follow our game plan and put it into action. We’ll just take a look at the tape tonight and see if there’s a few adjustments we’d like to make but Notre Dame played awesome,” she said.

“I’m really proud of the girls they stepped up and I just can’t say enough about them. They just really support and encourage each other and they’re such a pleasure to coach.”

DeZutter explained her squad battled and fought to the end and found ways to score.

“We do try to just kind of focus on that next point… and they’re just supporting and encouraging each other and they’re ready for that next play. That’s just what I love about them. They’re just a great group of girls and they just dig deep and find that extra gear.”

The Raiders were a force to be reckoned with and have plenty of power behind their spikes. DeZutter explained they often talk about being aggressive and the coaching staff encourages the girls to go for it and swing hard.

“They’re a strong physical group of young ladies. They’ve worked hard and are in great shape and they’re just awesome,” she added.

The Raiders are ranked third among girls’ volleyball teams in the Alberta Schools Athletic Association (ASAA) and are fighting for a provincial playoff berth. Lindsay Thurber last season won their seventh 4A provincial title since 2001 and hopes to repeat as champions.

The Cougars on the other hand are also one of the top teams in the province and are currently ranked ninth by the ASAA.

Cougars head coach Chris Wandler said he was satisfied with his team’s effort but need to clean up a few things before Friday’s game.

“We were in it until eight nine points and then key errors at certain particular times that we don’t normally do… I think we forced them into play not quite what their level is which I like because we did some things that made them do that. Overall I’m quite happy with how we played,” he said.

Wandler said they didn’t take advantage of some scoring opportunities and the Raiders took advantage which made a difference in the Cougars remaining in the game or the Raiders pulling away.

“If we can clean up those little runs, just shrink those a bit, and make some runs of our own there’s that little plus minus difference we could make in those sets,” he added.

With the win, the Raiders have the opportunity to win the zone championship on their home floor Friday at 6 p.m. but if the Cougars win they’ll play the third game on Saturday.

The boys’ 4A Central Zone Championship was also underway Thursday night where the Hunting Hills Lightning beat the Notre Dame Cougars 3-2 on a 15-6 final set to take game one. The two teams will rematch on Friday at 6 p.m. at Notre Dame High School where the Lightning will have the opportunity to become league champions.

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The Notre Dame Cougars and the Lindsay Thurber Raiders competed in the first game of the 4A Central Zone Championship Final at Notre Dame High School Thursday night. (Photo by Ian Gustafson/ Advocate staff)

The Notre Dame Cougars and the Lindsay Thurber Raiders competed in the first game of the 4A Central Zone Championship Final at Notre Dame High School Thursday night. (Photo by Ian Gustafson/ Advocate staff)

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