Stettler’s junior boys volleyball team is off to a slow start this fall, but its coach says he has high hopes for the rest of the season.
Joe Thibeau, who coaches the William E. Hay Composite High School team with James Choi, said the roster has many young players, nearly half of them in Grade 9, and some who are new to the sport.
“It’s a big learning curve to step into this level of play,” he said, adding, “The boys are improving very quickly.”
While the team has work to do, Thibeau said he’s hopeful that they will narrow the gap and win some sets before long.
The team had its first season game on Wednesday, Sept. 24, hosting Camrose and losing in three sets. Results were 25-8, 25-20 and 25-12. Judah Auton was William E. Hay’s player of the game.
The team also competed in a tournament at Calgary’s Bishop O’Byrne High School on Sept. 19 and 20. In contrast to the young team from Stettler, many of the competing teams boasted students from grades 10 and 11.
The junior boys will host a round-robin tournament this coming Saturday, Oct. 4, competing against teams from Camrose, Consort and Spruce View.
They are scheduled to travel to Rocky Mountain House on Wednesday, Oct. 1, to compete against West Central High School. They will also compete in Lacombe on Oct. 15, with their next home game on Oct. 22 against Innisfail.
The junior girls traveled to Lacombe on Sept. 19 and 20, competing in a Rams tournament against their hosts, Delburne and Ponoka.
They took first place in their own pool and made it to the finals, where they received silver medals and a runner-up plaque.
Coach Alicia Kneeland complimented the team’s great performance and said she received good feedback from the referees on her players’ communication and teamwork.
In league action, the junior girls hosted Camrose on Tuesday, Sept. 23, winning in the second set of four with a score of 25-23.
Their competitors took the three remaining sets; the results were 26-24, 25-13 and 25-19. William E. Hay’s player of the game was Kayla Myshaniuk.
The junior girls are slated to host five teams in a home tournament on Saturday, Oct. 4, and Kneeland said community support and attendance will be appreciated.
“We’re playing to win,” she said. “The more people that come out to cheer, the better we’ll do.”
The girls were scheduled to travel to Rocky Mountain House on Tuesday, Sept. 30.
Their next home game is slated for Oct. 14, when they will host Lacombe.
William E. Hay’s senior boys hosted Camrose on Wednesday, Sept. 24, losing in three sets. Results were 26-24, 25-20 and 25-17. Jordan Lee was the local player of the game.
Coach Derrick Hatch said the team enjoyed some close sets, but suffered from the loss of a few key players. He also said his players struggle to compete with club players who have spent the summer playing.
Hatch said the team could have easily defeated Camrose “if we had played the game that we know we can play.”
“We’re making slow progress so far,” he observed. “It takes a while to get up to speed.”
The team will visit Rocky Mountain House on Wednesday, Oct. 1, and then Lacombe on Oct. 15. Their next home game is not scheduled until Oct. 29, when they will host Wetaskiwin.
The senior boys will also compete on Oct. 3 and 4 in a tournament at Calgary’s Bishop O’Byrne High School.
The senior girls hosted Camrose on Tuesday, Sept. 23, losing in three sets. Results were 25-18, 26-24 and 25-23. Katie Monaghan was the local player of the game.
“Every league game, we just keep getting stronger and stronger,” observed coach Corinne Stephenson, noting that the team enjoyed some close matches against Camrose.
The team will travel to Calgary on Oct. 3 and 4 to compete in a tournament at Bishop O’Byrne High School, where Stephenson has high hopes that the team will place.
She said the team needs to continue to work on its communication skills during play in order to avoid dropped balls, a frequent stumbling block that has cost many points this season.
“Sometimes they’re a little too quiet out on the court,” she said. “That’s what we’ve been trying to work on.”
The senior girls were scheduled to visit Rocky Mountain House on Tuesday, Sept. 30. They will host Lacombe on Oct. 14.