Raiders 3 Cougars 2
The Lindsay Thurber Raiders came into the Central Alberta high school 4A boys’ volleyball championships as definite underdogs.
In the end they used that to their advantage as they upset the Notre Dame Cougars 27-25, 25-21, 20-25, 17-25, 15-13 at LTCHS Friday.
The win gave the Raiders a 1-1 record — they earlier lost 3-2 to Hunting Hills — and a berth in the provincial championships, which open Thursday in Lethbridge. The Cougars, who lost 3-1 to zone champion Hunting Hills Thursday, finished the round-robin at 0-2.
“We weren’t expected to win . . . we beat them in only one league game this season, so we didn’t have any pressure as we were underdogs,” said Raiders head coach Kevin Tennant. “But that was good as we just went and played.”
Tennant also felt the Cougars could have taken them for granted as well.
“I’m sure they expected to win,” he said. “But in this zone there’s no sure thing. In my opinion the ASAA (Alberta Schools Athletic Association) dropped the ball in not allowing three teams into the provincials. There’s no way a team that’s ranked fourth (Cougars) should not be going. There needs to be a change.”
Cougars head coach Sherry Schulzke agreed.
“There are three teams in this zone that are deserving of a berth, but we didn’t come through and all the credit to Thurber. Tthey played hard and will do a good job representing our zone along with Hunting Hills.”
The Raiders were the better team in the first two sets Friday, but Schulzke made an adjustment following the second set and as a result the Cougars were able to dominate at the net.
“We adjusted our blocking but it was a bit late,” she said. “And once you get into that fifth set anything can happen.”
Tennant felt his team became too predictable in consistently setting the outside hitters and not using his middles.
“Plus our passing wasn’t that good and it allowed them to set up the block,” he said.
Still the Raiders didn’t panic in the fifth set.
“We’ve been trying to stress all season not to get to high or to low and play with consistency and in the end that was important,” he said.
Cougars 3 Raiders 1
In girls’ action the Cougars took advantage of some poor serve receive by the Raiders to record a 25-21, 25-23, 25-27, 25-17 victory, which gave them their fourth straight zone championship.
The Raiders, who beat Hunting Hills 3-1 Thursday, finished at 2-0 with the Raiders, who downed Hunting Hills 3-2 Wednesday, finished at 1-1. Both teams will compete in the provincials in Lethbridge.
“I thought we served tough, which is something we’ve tried to do all year,” said Cougars head coach Chris Wandler. “It puts the other team under pressure and makes it easier on our side.”
Plus the Cougars passed the ball with more consistency than the Raiders.
“We take a lot of pride in our passing, if we do it well it makes it easier to run our offence.”
For the most part Cougars setter Kirsten Sorensen was able to utilize her complete roster while the Raiders offence wasn’t as diversified.
“We didn’t pass well, it was just one of those nights,” said Barb Young, who co-coaches the Raiders with Kirsten DeZutter.
The best the Raiders played was in the third set, when they found their passing.
The fact the Cougars, who are ranked No. 5 in the province, one back of the Raiders, were ahead 2-0 in sets made it almost impossible for the LTCHS squad to come back.
“It’s very tough to come back from a 2-0 deficit and even in the third set we were up 22-20 but got ahead of ourselves,” said Wandler.
The Cougars return to the provincials as defending bronze medalists.
“I’m not sure where we’ll be ranked, but it doesn’t matter,” saiud Wandler. “The main thing is to play good volleyball, especially that first day. That sets you up for the rest of the tournament. Last year we were ranked seventh or eighth, but played our best volleyball at the right time.”
Wandler feels the Raiders will turn it around in the provincials.
“We have outstanding competition in this zone, which is a major reason why this zone has had so much success at the provincials over the years,” he said. “It’s a battle every time we meet.”