But after a wonky start, the Zeniths hung tough with the Chinook Coyotes, a 4A school ranked No. 3 in Alberta.
“When you play Chinook, they are technically sound,” said head coach Shane Orr. “They’ve got several club players on their team, so they’re very experienced. Naturally, they make less mistakes. They are very good defensively.”
Call it jitters, call it a flat start, Orr says the team just wasn’t ready to go in the first set, and it didn’t last long. But after falling 25-14 in the opening frame, Magrath relaxed some and cut way back on the unforced errors, resulting in back-to-back 25-22 wins for Chinook. So while a loss will always be a loss, all of a sudden the Zeniths know they can play with these guys. A few extra bounces in those final two sets and Magrath is in a different match altogether.
“Chinook is very good at getting you to play their style of game,” Orr said. “But we were right there, and the boys knew that. They knew after the first game that we were much better than what we showed. Then we came out and made much less mistakes. Still more than we should have, obviously, because we came out on the losing end but there’s just a few plays here and there where we have to clean it up on our end.”
With the regular season now over for Magrath (5-1), the focus turns to league playoffs. JVs go this weekend, with varsity the weekend after, giving the senior Zeniths some time to prepare. The top seeds in playoffs play out of a “power pool” meaning Magrath will actually play Chinook again in the round robin. Orr says his group is looking forward to that matchup and hopes it will only be the first of two meetings that weekend.
“Hopefully we’ll see them in the championship final as well,” he said. “We want to play teams like that and we want to play in those situations where we have to get up to play those teams. Anytime you lose a game, if you beat that team later on, it makes it all feel better.”
In fact, the Zeniths won at the annual Magrath Smash last weekend, beating Calgary Christian in straight sets in the final. They had beaten CC in straight sets in the round robin as well, but had lost to them in previous tournaments leading up.
“We wanted those games, we wanted to beat them and we knew we could beat them,” Orr said. “The games we had lost to them earlier in the year? I asked the boys how they feel about those. “They don’t care anymore.”
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