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Athabasca area athletes represented region with ‘heart,’ during volleyball provincials

Sr. High teams from Athabasca and Boyle took to the courts Nov. 23-25

High school athletes from Athabasca and Boyle represented the region in two different corners of the province during the 2023 Alberta Schools Athletic Association’s (ASAA) provincial volleyball championship tournaments, held Nov. 23-25. 

The Sr. Boys Edwin Parr Composite (EPC) Predators secured fifth place in the 3A division after competing in Strathmore, Alta., and the Boyle Sr. Girls Huskies took 10th place in the 1A division in Peace River. 

“About a month ago, we weren’t even ranked in the top 14 teams in the province,” said EPC head coach Sean Morrison. After the team took gold at the North Central zones’ tournament in Barrhead Nov. 17-18, Morrison said they jumped to eighth place out of the 12 teams headed to provincials. 

“Overall, the boys did really well. We were getting lots of comments from other coaches,” said Morrison. “I think we raised a few eyebrows on how strong our team is.”

The Predators won their first two games of the tournament on Thursday, Nov. 23, losing their third round robin match to the Peace Wapiti Academy Titans Friday morning. They beat the Barrhead Gryphons by two points in the third and final set and faced off against the Central Alberta Christian Highschool (CACHS) Knights from Lacombe, Alta. for the quarterfinal match. 

“We put up a good fight,” said Morrison. “Very strong team, lots of players on that team headed onto post-secondary volleyball after this year.” 

On Saturday, the Predators again defeated Lloydminster’s Holy Rosary Raiders team for a spot in the fifth-place match. The boys came face-to-face with Peace Wapiti for the second time and claimed victory in two sets to finish fifth overall. 

“I’d just like to thank all the fans and students and parents and grandparents for all their support, and admin at the school,” said Morrison. Eight of the teams' 13 players will graduate this year, and Morrison recalled when he first started coaching the graduating group six years ago. 

“It’s a lot of hours, a lot of days, a lot of weekends, and they were committed the whole way through. They represented our school and town very well,” he said. “It was a really fitting way for them to end their high school career.”

Boyle Huskies take 10th place

Boyle’s Sr. Girls took to the court in Peace River, touting an almost undefeated record with only one tournament loss heading into provincials. The first three round robin matches ended in defeat for the Huskies — the team faced off against the École Plamondon Hawks Thursday morning, followed by matches with the Bassano Broncos in the afternoon and the St. Thomas More Kodiaks on Friday. 

“Overall, their performance was really good!” wrote head coach Shayla Derko in a Nov. 28 email. “These were the best 12, 1A teams in the province, and they competed very well against each team they played.” 

The Huskies went up against the Provost Panthers for their first playoff match but lost after two sets with a final score of 25-15. The girls bounced back for another match on Saturday, Nov. 25, winning in three sets against host team, the École Héritage Lynx, with a final score of 15-7. 

Boyle then went head-to-head with Bassano again to play for ninth place — the girls lost 25-21 after two hard-fought sets and took 10th place in the tournament overall. 

“No one really likes losing, and we all hoped for a different outcome, but they (as well as the coaching staff) were happy with how they played as a team,” wrote Derko. 

“Provincials is an amazing experience that not a lot of teams get to experience! This was the best volleyball they have played all season against the best 12 teams in the province. As their coach, I am so proud of this team and all the hard work, dedication, and heart they put into this season.” 

Lexi Freehill,

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