Senior clubs gain development while losing out in zone playoffs

After qualifying just last Wednesday, the Stettler Wildcats senior girls’ high school volleyball team went to work Saturday

The Stettler Wildcats from William E. Hay Composite High School pose for a photo Saturday after finishing their season with a 0-3 performance at the Zone 3 senior boys’ volleyball championship in Ponoka. The Wildcats were up against heady competition in Ponoka

The Stettler Wildcats from William E. Hay Composite High School pose for a photo Saturday after finishing their season with a 0-3 performance at the Zone 3 senior boys’ volleyball championship in Ponoka. The Wildcats were up against heady competition in Ponoka

After qualifying just last Wednesday, the Stettler Wildcats senior girls’ high school volleyball team went to work Saturday at the zone championship tournament in Sylvan Lake.

“The ’Cats had to face the first- (Sylvan Lake) and fourth-place (Ponoka) teams in their round-robin matches on Saturday, and despite playing some good volleyball, fell to defeat 2-0 in both cases,” said Warren Aspenes, the coach of the William E. Hay Composite High School contingent.

“The bulk of this year’s players are Grade 11 students, so the season was very much a developmental process that will hopefully lead to more success on the court next year.

“Several of the girls also play club volleyball in the spring and will be that much stronger come next season.”

It was a hectic final week of the season for the Wildcats, who earned a berth in the six-team zone championship tournament after emerging from a three-team playoff qualifier with Innisfail and Wetaskiwin on Wednesday.

“The three teams had ended up in a tie for the last two playoff spots, forcing the tiebreaker,” Aspenes said. “At the end of the evening, Innisfail took the fifth spot, winning both of their matches, and the Wildcats took the last spot by defeating Wetaskiwin 2-1.”

Senior boys finish their season, too

After a long layoff, the senior boys’ volleyball team from William E. Hay went 0-3 at the Zone 3 championship tournament Saturday in Ponoka.

The host Ponoka Broncs beat the Wildcats 25-14 and 25-6, while the Wetaskiwin Sabres topped Stettler 25-20 and 25-16, and the Camrose Trojans clipped the Wildcats 25-12 and 25-19.

In each match, Stettler showed signs of making a breakthrough, said first-year coach Erroll Brager.

He said the Wildcat program has youth on its side, with the senior team losing just two players — Wyatt Peters and Ross Salmon — via graduation. The JV club also built for the future, grooming players as young as the Grade 9 level this season.

In the senior boys’ zone final, Wetaskiwin topped Ponoka 25-19 twice to earn a berth in this weekend’s 12-team provincial championship tournament at Whitecourt.

Ponoka, the round-robin champion, had earned a bye to Saturday’s zone final, while Wetaskiwin advanced with a semifinal victory over Camrose (24-26, 25-18 and 16-14).

— Independent