Meet this season's upcoming high school competition
Senior girls volleyball players from across the city were getting their first in-game action this weekend, gearing up for their respective regular seasons.
The tournament held at the University of Calgary September 14th and 15th served as an icebreaker for the 16 Div. 1 teams involved. The tournament allowed for all high school teams to see opponents for the first time this year, and showed everyone the kind of competition they'll be seeing throughout the season.
William Aberhart beat Sir Winston Churchill in the final of the tournament, showing the kind of play necessary to get back to the provincial champion level they were at when they won provincials in 2008. Chinook High School placed third after beating Father Lacombe High School in the bronze medal game.
Tournament coordinator and organizer, Natalie Schwartz, who is also the Dinos women's volleyball head coach, weighed in on the potential battle in Div. 1 this year.
"I think Aberhart looked really strong this weekend. They've been known to have very good teams every year and once again they do this year. They have a lot of club players and they're very talented," Schwartz explained, "And they ended up winning the tournament so I think they look really strong. Although they won two sets to none in the final against Sir Winston Churchill, both sets were very tightly contested. So I think Winston Churchill is another team to look out for."
Competition looks to be fierce
With strong performances this weekend, Aberhart and Churchill just add to the number of contenders this year in Div. 1. The tournament also featured last year's city champions and two years running provincial champions, Centennial High School. Although they didn't place in the tournament, they have a new head coach at the helm this year and their goals are set high.
"These guys have really labeled themselves as champions, so I'm hoping that at the end of the year we are in the provincial final and that is where we have set our goal for this year," explained new head coach Sharlene Marschall.
Despite losing key players from last year's squads, Centennial, Western Canada and Bishop Grandin look to build on what they did last year and be big competitors this season. Finishing first, second and third respectively last season, they're looking to once again be near the top of the standings, despite a lackluster finish in the weekend tournament.
Coaches noted that finishing in the top three at this tournament shows your opponents what you're made of, and that you're ready to compete for top spot but that's not all that this tournament is important for.
Bishop Grandin's head coach, Renee Russell, said: "It allows everyone to get into the game and get equal playing time. I can see who plays well with who and it allows me to play with matchups."
Allowing the coaches and players to become comfortable with each other before the regular season begins is extremely valuable for the teams involved.
The combination of last year's top teams and the teams that emerged this weekend promises that there will be plenty of competitive play this season in Div. 1 volleyball.
- By Lucas Silva