Both of Barrhead Composite High School’s Gryphons volleyball teams came away from the 3A Provincial Championships, hosted in Westlock Nov. 25-27, with bronze medals.
The trajectory followed by both the girls and boys teams were very similar, as both finished first in their respective five-team pools in the round robin and then lost a match in the semi-finals to a team they would end up playing in the championship final.
Likewise, both teams ended up facing a challenge in their bronze medal match and would have to fight hard to earn their bronze medals.
The Gryphon girls started off pretty well in the round robin by earning victories over three of their opponents – St. John Paul II School from Fort Saskatchewan, Monsignor McCoy High School from Medicine Hat and St. Gabriel the Archangel School from Chestermere.
They only suffered one loss versus Springbank Community High School from Calgary, which downed the Gryphons in three sets. That 3-1 record was still enough to net the Gryphons first place in their pool and propel them into the playoffs, skipping the first round.
Their first opponent was a team from Cochrane, which ended up winning the match 25-18 and 25-21. Coach Kyle Becker said the girls battled hard all weekend, but a couple of errors made the difference in the semi-final.
That put Barrhead into a rematch with McCoy. While the Gryphons won the first set by a score of 25-16, McCoy fought hard in the second set, which ended up 28-26 in Barrhead’s favour.
“This game was good. It was nice to end on a win,” said Becker, following the match.
In general, the Gryphons have had a successful season, finishing in the top ranks of most of the tournaments they entered throughout the season, said Becker.
But beyond medals and tournament victories, in terms of learning new things and having fun, “I think they were successful all year,” he added.
Becker noted that quite a few of the girls were in Grade 12, so this was their last season of high school volleyball.
“That’s why there’s the tears: because they know that this is it for them,” Becker said.
While they had the same result as the girls, the Barrhead boys’ bronze medal victory was perhaps a little more bittersweet, as the team had set its sights on winning gold.
“It’s a tough match to play when you have your sights set a little bit higher,” said coach Rod Calihoo following the bronze medal game.
“But it’s also a good accomplishment … Even if you don’t meet your own expectations, you still end up with something. I credit the boys for that.”
The senior boys certainly seemed unstoppable in the round robin, defeating Magrath High School, St. Martin de Poirres High School from Airdrie, Camrose and R.F. Staples to finish first in their pool.
Earning a bye into the semi-finals, Barrhead came up against Magrath once again, but this time would lose in two straight sets, both by a score of 25-22.
While Magrath went on to win the provincials, Barrhead faced off with Camrose and lost the first set 17-25.
That forced the boys to battle back and win the next set by 25-21. The third set then ended with an 18-16 nail-biter in favour of the Gryphons.
In addition to praising the boys for their performance, Calihoo added a thank-you to R.F. Staples for doing a great job of hosting in spite of the added cleaning and masking requirements.