By Tyler Lowey, Times Reporter
After finishing strong in a pair of lower-ranked tournament two weekends ago, the Strathmore Spartans entered the deep end of the pool and took on some of the top high school volleyball competition from around the province last weekend at the Red Mile Rumble tournament at Western Canada High School.
The boys and girls squads punched up, entering the tournament as a 3A school, being matched up against other 4A schools from the area.
“It was a little unusual to see us not come out with any wins, but the teams were a lot tougher than the ones we saw earlier this season,” said girls Head Coach Randy Moncks. “Last week, we could make some mistakes and get away with them, but this time, if we made mistakes we got in trouble.”
The Spartans only won two sets in six matches.
The nearby Chestermere Lakers handled the Spartans 2-1 (25-27, 25-20, 15-7) and was clipped 2-1 by the Rundle College Cobras (25-20, 17-25, 15-9).
“We’re a grinding team – we’re not tall. We want to frustrate teams with our defence and ability to dig out balls,” said Moncks. “We were always up against it this weekend and we had to be focused the entire time or our mistakes were going to cost us. There’s ways to beat these bigger teams, but we are going to have to refine our skills.”
The rest of the tournament didn’t go so well for the Spartans.
They were swept by the Sir Winston Churchill High School Bulldogs 2-0 (25-18, 25-20), fell 2-0 to the William Aberhart High School Orange 2-0 (25-21, 25-21), were beat by the Mount Baker Secondary School Wild of Cranbrook 2-0 (25-14, 25-16) and lost to the host Redhawks 2-0 (25-14, 25-20).
“The Thanksgiving break will do us good and hopefully we come back refreshed ready for the push to zones,” said Moncks. “I think getting humbled every once in a while is a good thing. It was good to see the top level, now we know where we have to get to when we get back into practice mode.”
The Spartans will return to action Oct. 13 and 14 for a tournament in Medicine Hat.
The Red Mile Rumble marked the first time the Spartan guys squad competed together as a unit. Earlier this season, Cole Hintz split his crew up depending on the tournament, but had the freshmen playing with the seniors at Western Canada.
The guys managed to pull a win out of the weekend, finishing 1-5.
They swept the Ardrossan High School Bisons 2-0 (25-18, 25-18).
“We weren’t focused on the results this weekend. I wanted to get a feel where we were at as a team and where do we need to go moving forward, as we get ready for zones,” said Hintz.
They forced a third set against the Orange, but fell 2-1 (20-25, 25-10, 15-12) and lost to the St. Mary’s High School Saints 2-1 (25-19, 18-25, 15-6).
The Spartans were swept in their other matches, losing 2-0 (25-15, 25-19) to the host Redhawks, 2-0 (25-23, 27-25) to the Bulldogs and 2-0 to the Wild.
“This was the first time we had everyone together on the same team. It gave us an opportunity to see guys in different spots,” said Hintz. “One new guy that stood out was Dan Mulder. He was going up against 4A middles and held his own as a Grade 10.”
The Spartans will pause over the long weekend and resume tournament play Oct. 20 at the Magrath Smash tournament.
In other Spartan news, the football team is set to host their first home game in more than a month, when they welcome the Brooks Composite High School Buffaloes to the High School Field Oct. 5, as the Spartans returned to Rangeland Football Conference action.
The Spartans were last at home Sept. 1, when they lost the season opener to the Crescent Heights High School Vikings 23-6.
In their final game of the season, the Spartans will host the Medicine Hat High School Mohawks Oct. 13.
The Spartans went 0-2 in a pair of exhibition games lately and recently took part in a junior varsity jamboree Sept. 29 in Brooks. It was an opportunity for all the teams in the league to meet at one location and help teach the game to the freshmen and sophomore players.
The short cross-country season began to heat up for the defending provincial champion Spartans. The Foothills divisional meet took place Oct. 4 with the South Central Zone tournament scheduled for Oct. 11. The provinical meet is slated for Oct. 21 in Edmonton.