For the second year in a row, the Chestermere Lakers senior girls’ volleyball team concluded the season by competing at provincials.
After losing all its matches at 2018’s championship, the Lakers showed added competitiveness this time around, winning a third of its battles in Edmonton to finish the Alberta Schools Athletic Association’s (ASAA) 4A tournament in 10th place.
“We won two of our six matches, and we could have potentially won three or four of them,” said assistant coach Sara Taylor. “We felt like we were actually part of the competition this time, not just there because we made provincials.”
Having ended the regular season in third place of the Rocky View Sports Association (RVSA), the Lakers qualified for the ASAA championship by winning the South Central Zones 4A tournament in Okotoks Nov. 15 and 16. Despite Chestermere losing its first two matches at zones, the squad overcame the Holy Trinity Academy Knights and Foothills Falcons on the second day to bring home the banner.
“[Our players] perform when they need to,” Taylor said. “That was the biggest thing, and it’s not necessarily always a good thing. But when they needed to put the pressure on themselves to win, and needed to work hard, they did it.”
At provincials, the Lakers – the bottom-ranked side in the 12-team tourney – opened its schedule by beating Salisbury Composite in two sets. Ensuing losses to the Lindsay Thurber Raiders and the Chinook Coyotes meant Chestermere finished the round robin in third place of its pool.
The finish resulted in the Lakers taking on the sixth-ranked Hunting Hills Lightning in a crossover match for a spot in the quarterfinals.
A loss to the Lightning meant the Lakers had to contest in the consolation match-ups, rather than the medal rounds. In a rematch with the Chinook Coyotes, Taylor said Chestermere put forward its strongest performance of the season, earning redemption over the Lethbridge-based team with a victory in three sets.
“The girls played extremely well,” she said. “We had some ups and downs, but I think in the crucial times, when the players needed to perform, they did.”
The team capped off the weekend with a loss in the ninth-place consolation match against William Aberhart, in three sets.
Taylor said the players were proud of their accomplishments this season, adding Chestermere High School has likely never sent a senior girls’ volleyball team to the ASAA championships two years in a row.
“It was really exciting to go to provincials two years, back to back,” she said. “I don’t know what next year will bring, but it was really nice to go for a second time with the group we had.”
According to Taylor, four players from the team will graduate next June – Sarah Merkosky, Kaitlyn Fehr, Leah Young and Haylee Bailey.