On Oct. 22 the Magrath Zeniths were named the Southern Alberta High School Volleyball League varsity champions for the first time in the schools history when they defeated the Catholic Central Cougars to bring their record up to 6 – 0.
“It was good that we clinched league, it was the first time our school has ever done it,” said Zeniths head coach Shane Orr.
“Not to say there hasn’t been great volleyball teams in the past in this town, cause there has been … but we were able to pull it off this year.”
The Zeniths went 3 – 1 (25-23, 25-21, 19-25, 25-20) to take the match. Orr credits the Cougar for their hard work on the court, the intense matchups and the many long rallies that made the boys work hard for the victory.
“The boys came out and played really well to start the game, they had focus and knew there was a goal in mind and they had that in their sights.”
Magrath proved just how well rounded of a team they are at the CCHS West Campus, bringing both their offensive and defensive skills on the road.
The Zenith coaches were particularly impressed by the high volleyball IQ demonstrated by the squad, they were able to make adjustments on the fly and adapt to the tendencies of the other team.
The Cougars have a player who hits a lot of cross court balls, so the Zeniths adjusted to blocking cross court, forcing him to hit line where the back row could better pass and dig the ball, explained Orr.
But during the second set, the Zeniths looked like a totally different team, the squad wasn’t able to pass or get the ball back over the neat and nothing was clicking on the court.
Orr has frequently reminded the team over the course of the season that in order to win they can’t score more points for the other team than they are for themselves.
“Volleyball is a game of mistakes cause it is a rally point system, every time the rally ends a team is awarded a point. In volleyball you could do 90-percent of the things correctly and it doesn’t really get you anything … and the other team still gets the point. And that can be frustrating … it is very tough on you mentally.”
In order to give his team a mental break to refocus, Orr used up both of his timeouts early in the second set, with the second timeout being called when the Zeniths were down 13-3.
They weren’t able to come back from such a large deficit, but pushed hard to have the score come within four at one point.
“For whatever reason, we just went cold … I wasn’t super concerned about it because we were up two nothing, we wanted to go three and O, and make a statement, they are a 3A team in our zone this year and we wanted to let them know we are the team to beat.
“It was a good thing for us … Going into the fourth we talked about the fact it is the team that wins three first, not the team that wins two first.”
Things clicked again in the fourth and the Zeniths held the lead from the start to the finish.
Carter Hansen led the squad with 24 kills in the match. Tristan Killian and Austin Bennett each had 11 kills of their own.
The overall team serving percentage was 85-percent Wednesday night, with Tyson Bourne leading the way with the most earned points.
CCHS only allowed three aces in four sets because of their strong serve receive, passing and ball control.
The Cougars “are a good defensive team. One thing they are very good at is their serve receive, they don’t shank many balls.”
Morgan Broadhead led the Zenith defense with six big digs, often at key moments to maintain the momentum in their favour.
Magrath’s goal is to beat LCI in their last home game of the season on Wednesday and go undefeated in the regular league play. So Far the Zeniths have beat Cardston, Catholic Central, Chinook, Kate Andrews, Picture Butte and Winston Churchill.
No results for the LCI game were known at press time. See next weeks paper for results.