By Tyler Lowey, Times Reporter
The Strathmore High School Spartans girls team could not regroup after an early setback during the 3A Alberta School’s Athletic Association provincial volleyball tournament.
The Spartans advanced to provincials despite losing the South Central Zone final last week, due to the wild card draw. The provincial champion last year came from their zone, so the zone was awarded an extra berth this year into provincials.
Provincials couldn’t have started on a better note, as the Spartans hammered the Edmonton Christian School 25-12 in the opening set. From there, the wheels fell off, as the Spartans setting ran into some trouble in the second set, as they fell 20-25.
“After that second set we tightened up quite a bit,” said Spartans Head Coach Randy Moncks. “That Edmonton Christian team caught everyone by surprise by taking four of their five round robin games to three sets and winning three of them.”
To start Edmonton’s run-off success in the third set, they clipped the Spartans 8-15 to pick up their first win Nov. 24.
The next day, the Spartans lost 2-0 (20-25, 11-25) to the favoured Eagle Butte High School Talons in their first game of three Nov. 25.
The Spartans followed that up with a 2-0 (17-25, 21-25) loss to the No. 1 ranked — and future provincial champion — St. Joseph’s Catholic High School Celtics of Grande Prairie.
“Even though we lost, that was our best match. The girls played super well, we battled and got excited about volleyball again,” said Moncks.
A reinvigorated Spartans squad closed out the second day of competition with a 2-1 (20-25, 25-19, 15-10) decision over the Bowness High School Trojans.
“Maybe the tension of the provincial tournament got to us early and we just weren’t ourselves. I was happy the way our girls decided to not throw in the towel and battle it out to the end,” said Moncks. “It’s always nice winning a couple of games at provincials against some of the best competition around.”
Concluding their trip to Sylvan Lake, the Spartans defeated the host H.J. Cody School Lakers 2-1 (15-25, 25-20, 15-12) on Nov. 25.
“It was a superb showing of volleyball all weekend,” said Moncks. “Most teams had a handful of club players on their team, which made for some great action. I am proud of the way our girls competed.”
The Spartans didn’t leave completely empty handed. Elyse Doble was acknowledged for her positivity and hard work with a pin recognizing her as one of five players to win sportsmanship awards throughout the tournament.
Sadly, it marked the end of the line for five Spartan players: Geena Schramm, Kaylin Larson, Mackenzie Desjardins, Kirsten Whelan and Sydney Boyd will all graduate high school later next spring.
“We began to turn things around mid-October and finished with a pretty strong season,” said Moncks. “I really enjoyed how hard all these girls worked for me this season.”