After finishing third in the Rocky View Sports Association (RVSA), the George McDougall Mustangs senior boys’ volleyball team capped off its season Nov. 16 by claiming bronze at the 3A South Central Zones tournament in Strathmore.
“We were hoping and trying to win gold, but bronze was an excellent result,” head coach Tim Massé said.
The Mustangs started the tournament Nov. 15 with a loss to the Cochrane Cobras – RVSA champion for the last two years. Despite the early setback, George McDougall ended the round robin in second place after securing wins over High River and Brooks.
The next day, the team swept the Canmore Wolverines to book a berth in the semi-finals.
“It was a tougher match – they were quite good – but we had the edge on them, especially in our middle attack,” Massé said.
George McDougall’s run to the championship ended in the semi-finals, with a loss to the Strathmore Spartans.
“We pushed them, but they have some excellent players and…our blocking skills weren’t up to their hitting skills,” Massé said.
In the bronze-medal match, George McDougall would face up against a familiar foe – the Springbank Phoenix. George McDougall had already faced the Phoenix five times in league and tournament play, including a lengthy five-set match the Phoenix won in the RVSA semi-finals.
This time, however, the Mustangs exacted revenge, downing the Phoenix in three sets.
“It was at the end of the tournament, so everyone was a little more tired,” Massé said. “We fared a bit better, and did really well in the first set, winning it 25-16. In the second set, we had a lull and lost focus. The tiredness hit us a little bit, our passing went out, and we lost it 25-23. We came back and handily won the third set, 15-18.”
While he acknowledged the players' dissatisfaction about failing to qualify for the gold-medal match, he said the Mustangs have come a long way from the previous season, when the squad finished fourth in the RVSA and did not qualify for zones.
“The kids were doing things I’d coached them to do throughout the year, but now they were doing it on their own,” Massé said. “That was the growth that was so exciting to see.”