After coming close in the Rocky View Sports Association (RVSA) championship match last week, the George McDougall Mustangs senior boys' volleyball team is gearing up to compete at the 3A South Central Zones tournament in Strathmore on Nov. 18 and 19.
Last Wednesday, the Mustangs competed for the RVSA banner against the unbeaten Cochrane Cobras. While they were able to force the Nov. 9 match to a fifth and final set, George McDougall ultimately lost the fifth set 15-8.
Mustangs head coach and alumnus Addison Asuchak – filling in for George McDougall's long-serving volleyball coach Tim Massé this fall – said even though the team came up short in the divisional final, he was proud of his players' competitive spirit. He noted how in their regular-season match-up with Cochrane, the Cobras (who have won the RVSA banner five years running) had swept the Mustangs in three straight sets.
“When we were down 13-8 in the final set [against Cochrane], I took a timeout and told the boys, ‘Guys, I’m incredibly proud of you to have made it this far against Cochrane,'” Asuchak said. “I could care less what the score is going to be. I just want you to play with all the heart you’ve got.”
The Mustangs ended the regular season in third place of the RVSA table with a 4-2 record.
But once the playoffs were underway, the Mustangs found an extra gear, booking their berth in the banner game against Cochrane thanks to a back-and-forth, five-set victory over the second-seeded Springbank Phoenix in the RVSA semi-finals. It was a match Asuchak claimed was the Mustangs' best performance of the season.
“[We've gone] through the season with the mentality of, we may not win every game off the bat, but as the season goes on, we’ll be progressing,” he said. “We’ve progressively set the bar higher and higher at every tournament and in every major match we’ve played in. We’ve impressed ourselves and continue striving to do so.”
In addition to their RVSA schedule this fall, George McDougall's senior boys volleyball players have kept their skills sharp by playing at weekend tournaments hosted at Red Deer's Hunting Hills, Strathmore, and W.H. Croxford high schools.
With those tournaments and the RVSA season in the rear-view mirror, Asuchak said the players are ready to vie for the South Central Zones banner this weekend. The third-ranked Mustangs will be joined at the Strathmore tourney by their RVSA counterparts Cochrane and Springbank, as well as teams from Olds and Brooks.
Asuchak said the goal is to try and win the 3A tournament, which would book the Mustangs a spot in the provincial championships at the end of November. Last year, George McDougall finished in third place at zones, narrowly missing out on the chance to compete at provincials.
The first-year head coach added the boys are “amped up” and excited to return to the court for at least one more slate of competitive matches this season.
“Provincials is definitely a possibility,” he said. “It’s not going to be easy and will be a struggle. It will matter in the matches who wants it more.”