By Rachelle Campeau, Wildcats JV girls’ coach
The Wildcat JV girls from William E. Hay Composite High School in Stettler travelled to Calgary to compete in the Rundle College Academy’s Cobra Classic this past weekend. The Stettler girls put in more than 15 hours of tournament play Saturday and came out as the gold medal champions.
Teams in the tournament were mostly from Calgary (including CCS, Rundle, Holy Rosary and St. Martin), as well as surrounding areas (Didsbury, Cochrane and Oilfields).
The Wildcats’ round-robin play began at 8:45 a.m., starting with a difficult game against Cochrane. The girls split the two games played, winning 25-18 and then falling 25-19.
The Wildcats then moved on to play Holy Rosary, and with spectacular net plays from Olivia Zuk, Morgan VanDusen and Dacia Gramlick, Stettler proved to be a force to be reckoned with. The girls won both games of the set — 25-21 and 25-15, ending the second game with a direct hard hit from Tyra Ganser.
The last two games in round-robin play were against Oilfields. The Wildcats scored wins of 25-10 and 25-13.
At the end of round-robin play, the Stettler girls were ranked first in their pool with five wins and only one loss. That allowed them to play the fourth place team, the Didsbury Dragons, in the opposing pool in the quarter-final round.
Didsbury came out ready to play, but was no match for the Wildcats, who defeated the Dragons in two games — 25-10 and 25-17.
Moving onto the semifinals, the Stettler girls once again faced Holy Rosary, which had created an upset by defeating the Rundle in the quarter-finals. Holy Rosary showed to be an entirely new team when compared to the one seen previously. The Wildcats fought hard, but lost the first match 20-25. In the second match, quick coverage by Jessica Nelson and Brook Clark countered the hard hits dealt by Holy Rosary.
Libero Ryah Auton made all the difference for Stettler, sacrificing body for ball, picking up anything and everything that was dished to the back court, allowing power players Dacia Gramlick and Bailey Steinhoff, as well as middle players Morgan VanDusen and Katie Monaghan, to return hard hits back at the opposition.
The Wildcats defeated Holy Rosary in the second match 25-23, resulting in a third and final game to determine the winner of the set. Both teams played amazing, resulting in long and difficult rallies where often players found themselves hitting the ground in order to get the ball back up for a play. The Wildcats squeezed out the win with a final score of 16-14, moving them onto the final.
In the final, the Wildcats once again faced Cochrane. Already late into the day due to close matches delaying schedule times, the girls walked onto the court at 9:30 p.m., bruised and tired but excited and ready to play.
In the first match, the Stettler girls got an early lead, with Cochrane finding it difficult to receive the hard serves from Katie Monaghan, and took the first match 25-17.