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BCHS senior boys overcome the odds to win 3A provincials

Gryphons earned a spot at provincials in Lethbridge by winning North Central 3A Zones in Westlock
The Barrhead Composite High School senior boys' volleyball team proudly display their 3A Provincial Championship banner. In the back row from left to right are coach Rod Callihoo, Kaden Tuininga, Markus Rottier, Ian Van Dijk, Gerrit Koekkoek, Nate Callihoo, Kayden Rentz, Easton Storseth and assistant coach Lou Rondeau. In the front row are Ryder Sabiston, Carter Roszko, Simon D'haene, Miller Ferguson, Cruz De Vries and assistant coach Tristan Heimstra.

BARRHEAD – Pitted against Peace Wapiti Academy, a team that they’ve been unable to defeat all year, the chances of victory seemed slim for the Barrhead Composite High School (BCHS) senior boys’ volleyball team as they headed into the finals of the 3A Provincial Championships held in Lethbridge Nov. 24-26. 

In a major upset, however, the BCHS Gryphons were at last able to overcome their northern rivals from Grande Prairie in three extremely close sets of 25-23, 23-25 and 15-13. 

“I have to thank our players for the resolve and commitment they showed all weekend. I often mention winning is linked to will and desire; this weekend, their will and desire were beyond all of my hopes,” said coach Rod Callihoo. 

“As coaches, we couldn’t be more proud of our athletes’ accomplishments. Much of our teaching and development was embodied by the excellent play each and every player demonstrated throughout the weekend.” 

Starting out on Thursday, Callihoo said the senior boys were placed in a pool alongside Peace Wapiti, Strathcona Christian Academy (SCA) from Edmonton, Monsignor McCoy from Taber, Cochrane High School and Camrose Composite High School. 

Their first match was against SCA, a previous rival, who they downed 25-16 and 25-22. 

Next, they played Monsignor McCoy, and this is where the BCHS boys faltered a little, losing in two straight sets (12-25, 22-25). 

“It wasn’t our best showing. We didn’t serve or pass well,” said Callihoo, noting that while their tournament start wasn’t horrible, it wasn’t indicative of their final showing. 

Even so, the Gryphons came together on Friday morning and managed to defeat Cochrane High in three sets. 

“It was a unifying match that we rallied to win in a third set after getting a lesson in the first set,” Callihoo noted. 

Their second match that day was with Camrose, a team they had played before and had some success against. The first set proved to be an incredibly long, drawn-out affair that was ultimately decided in Camrose’s favour by a score of 39-41, which Callihoo noted was the highest score for a volleyball game he’d ever been involved in. 

After that tough setback, Barrhead rallied once again and defeated Camrose 25-16 and 15-11. 

With a record of 3-1, Barrhead needed only one more victory to secure first place in their pool. Unfortunately, Callihoo said their last round robin opponent was Peace Wapiti, which Barrhead had been unable to defeat all season in several different match-ups. 

Their losing streak against PWA continued to hold for one more match, as Peace Wapiti defeated the Gryphons 9-15, 25-22 and 30-28. That left Barrhead in an unknown position, Callihoo said. 

“With multiple scenarios to possibly play out, we watched the final round robin matches, and at their conclusion, we finished third in our pool,” he added. 

Entering the playoffs on Saturday, Barrhead’s first opponent in the quarter-finals was Winston Churchill from Lethbridge, who they defeated 25-17 and 25-18. 

The semi-finals pitted them once more against Cochrane, one of their tougher opponents from the round robin. And once again, this match was decided in Barrhead’s favour in three sets (25-16, 18-25 and 15-8). 

Of course, that pitted them once more against Peace Wapiti. Going into that final match, Callihoo said they had hoped for another well-fought battle, but also a final victory. 

“We were successful in both hopes, as we defeated a team we were unable to beat all season,” he added.

Kevin Berger,

Kevin Berger

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