Days after the Magrath High boys clinched their title, the Magrath Pandas earned their own league title with a tight, five-set win over the Chinook Coyotes.
The Pandas (9-0) faced elimination in the final two sets at Chinook High School in Lethbridge (8-1), but won them both and clinched the Southern Alberta High School Volleyball League girls title with a 10 and 0 record.
It is the first time the Pandas won the award and brought the trophy back to Magrath.
Magrath won the first set 25-21 but dropped the next two 23-25 and 17-25. They bounced back in the fourth set to win 25-17 and squeaked out the win in the deciding set, 17-15.
“It was just a great match all around, Chinook is always a strong team,” said Pandas head coach Tara Anderson.
“My girls played steady strong volleyball. The sets where we were successful, we passed well and ran our offense well. The sets that we lost, passing was cold. But the girls never got panicky and played with real maturity and composure.”
In the last set, Chinook had three chances at game point, but the Pandas never got down on themselves, shook off the mistakes and played through to take the set, match and league bragging rights.
As a team, the Pandas made over 90-percent of their serves against Chinook.
“Everyone hit well, and contributed where and when we needed them to… Our blocking has been a really big deal for us. We worked really hard on it in practice this year to take our game to the next level.”
Jillian Gieske had 15 kills, two blocks and two aces in the
winning effort. Jamie Cook chipped in with 11 kills, four blocks and an ace.
Kassi Bogdan had six big hits as well, the left handed, right side hitter also made key serves.
The setter, Megan Andersonalso had an outstanding game.
“Her set selection was excellent. She knew where to go and that makes a big difference, reading the block and recognizing which hitters are ready and wanting the ball.”
The Pandas also defeated Catholic Central, Cardston, Kate Andrews, LCI, Picture Butte, Raymond, Winston Churchill and W.R. Myers over the course of the season.
“This group of girls are amazing ambassadors of the sport in our town. The younger kids can look to there success and get excited about watching them play volleyball.”
“Our town has traditionally been basketball, basketball, basketball, this is great recognition for the sport … Having successful programs always does that. The boys program succeding too has really helped build an interest in the sport.” added Anderson.
The community is starting to adopt the sport and really support the local teams, they are proud to cheer on Magrath.