By Garrett Simmons
Westwind Weekly News
The Magrath Pandas earned a spot in provincials after a silver-medal finish as zones.
Magrath will head to Fairview this week for the 2A girls competition, as Alberta Schools Athletic Association provincials go this weekend.
The Pandas second-place at zones earned the team one more weekend, as Magrath fell to Vauxhall in the zone final at Lethbridge College. Raymond earned the bronze medal with a 25-18, 25-20 win over F.P. Walshe.
“We are very excited to be going to provincials again this year,” said coach Tara Anderson. “It’s been a couple of years since the girls team has qualified, so we are happy to be able to represent our school at this tournament again this year.”
Anderson’s team fell 25-15, 25-18 to Vauxhall in the final, a match where the Pandas were certainly the underdog against the powerhouse Queens.
“We had a pretty good zone tournament, losing to a very tough, well-disciplined Vauxhall team,” said the coach. “They have won 96 straight sets, so they are tough competition.”
Throughout the zone tournament, the Pandas turned in solid performances with five wins, which came against Immanuel Christian (25-9, 18-25, 15-11), Kainai (25-8,25-16), Raymond (25-17, 25-22), St. Mary’s (17-25, 25-17, 15-10) and a tight 25-22, 25-22 win over F.P. Walshe in the semifinal.
Raymond ‘s tournament also featured a 25-23, 25-23 win over St. Mary’s, a 25-19, 27-25, 25-16 win over Immanuel Christian and a 25-19, 25-5 win over Kainai. The Comets dropped the semifinal, as Vauxhall defeated Raymond 25-15, 25-18, to knock the Comets out of provincial contention.
Magrath’s 2A provincial tournament begins Thursday at 11:30 a.m. against the Fairview High Cobras. Friday’s slate includes matches at 10:15 a.m. (Onoway Mustangs), 3:15 p.m. (Spirit River Renegades) and 5:45 p.m. (Rundle College Cobras). Magrath opens play Saturday at 10:15 a.m. against the David Thompson Voyagers.
The gold-medal will be contested in the 6:30 p.m. match later in the day.
For Anderson, her team’s success in Fairview will likely come down to the mental side of the game, according to the coach.
“We still get a bit tight in the big games, which is what I saw happen in our final match at zones. But we are getting better at playing more consistently overall and we are starting to gel a bit more together in terms of our chemistry on the court, so I hope to see that from my team this weekend. They are a great group of girls and it’s been fun to work with them this year and see how far they have progressed. I’m anxious to see how the weekend goes.”
In Fairview at the 2A provincials, Anderson added there will be two teams in particular who everyone else will be on the lookout for.
“I would expect Vauxhall and Spirit River, who are last year’s provincial champions, to be the favourites at provincials this year. I think our team can certainly be competitive if we come out a play clean and to our potential.”
In terms of the Southern Alberta High School Volleyball League awards, Magrath and Raymond were well represented, as hardware was handed out on Nov. 15 at Catholic Central High School.
Magrath’s Sage Finck was named a first-team varsity all-star and Raymond’s Kansas Long was a second-team all-star.