By Garrett Simmons
Westwind Weekly News
The Magrath Zeniths volleyball team is heading to provincials.
Alberta Schools Athletic Association provincials go this weekend, as the Zeniths will travel to Strathmore for the 3A boys tournament.
The Zeniths punched a ticket to provincials with a silver-medal finish at 3A zones on the weekend at LCI, where the host took the gold medal.
Magrath coach Shane Orr did have his team up 1-0 in the final, however, against a tough Rams squad.
“We won the first set against LCI 25-20,” said Orr. “We served well, kept them out of system and as a result were able to play great defense.”
The Zeniths could not maintain that solid start throughout the match.
“The second set was the turning point,” said Orr. “We were neck and neck at 5-5 and then they went on a massive serving run where everything went their way. They could do nothing wrong and mistakes disappeared. We ended up losing that set 25-7.”
The third set was not much different, as Magrath lost 25-16.
“It was just really hard to overcome that mental edge we had given them,” said Orr. “The fourth set was better and a lot closer but 25-20 was as close as we would get. We had the set within one or two points late but just couldn’t make a final push.”
Magrath defeated McCoy 25-17, 25-12 and W.R. Myers 25-18, 25-18 earlier in the tournament.
“We played great in both of those matches,” said Orr. “This gave us a bye to the semifinal where we matched up against Cardston and won three sets to zero by scores of 25-15, 25-23, 25-17.”
Aside from a tough loss in the zone final, Orr added advancing to provincials checks off a preseason accomplishment for his team.
“We had made this a goal from the start of the season. We had many players from last year’s team that thought we underachieved and should have qualified for provincials and we didn’t, so we had a very determined group of boys that didn’t let things slip through their fingers this year.”
In Strathmore, Orr said he expects three teams will be Magrath’s top competition when all is said and done.
“LCI, Morinville, and Strathcona Christian are the top teams but it looks like a well balanced, difficult tournament where we will have to play well to win and move on. But we know we can compete with these teams when we are playing our game.”
With a zone silver medal, Orr added his Zeniths are playing well heading into the most important tournament of the year.
“It was a great team effort and I’m confident we are all peaking at the right time.”
Zeniths begin provincial play Friday with a 9 a.m. match against the Morinville Wolves, and follow that up with matches at 12:45 p.m. (St. Paul Saints) and 4:30 p.m. (Louis St. Laurent Barons). Magrath begins play Saturday at 11 a.m. against the St. Martin de Porres Kodiaks.
The gold-medal game will be played later in the day at 6:30 p.m.
In terms of the Southern Alberta High School Volleyball League awards, Magrath was also well represented, as hardware was handed out on Nov. 15 at Catholic Central High School.
Paycen Blackmore and Jack Bennett were first-team varsity all-stars on the boys side, while the Junior Varsity Coach of the Year Award went to Ken Baker of Magrath.