WESTLOCK – The Westlock Falcons stepped up and played their best games of the year when it mattered most.
The Westlock Falcons 15U boys’ volleyball team are Division 2, Tier 2 national champions after beating Fog White in two sets, 25-21 and 25-12 to take the gold medal at the Volleyball Canada 2022 15U Nationals in Edmonton May 19-21.
“That’s something they’re never going to forget. It’s something you put on your wall and you’re proud of every single morning when you wake up,” said head coach Aaron Graf.
The Falcons beat Fog Red in the semifinal to face Fog White in the gold medal game. Fog White had beat the Falcons twice in recent weeks, including in round robin play at the nationals.
“I mentioned to them in the round robin that if they beat that team, that means more to me than anything,” he said. “It shows that they’ve improved since premier three (tournament) … they really proved it to me in that final. It was impressive.”
A total of 56 teams from across Canada competed in four divisions in the Volleyball Canada 2022 15U Nationals event. The club’s roster included players from not only Westlock, but also Clyde, Dapp, Barrhead and Neerlandia.
After the loss to Fog White in the round robin, Graf noted the difference maker in their second meeting in the gold medal final.
“I think it was their realization to play collectively as a team. Everyone put the right foot forward and was all focused on the same goal,” he said. “They are champions — they didn’t falter when the nerves are supposed to be on.”
He said despite an often-overwhelming experience, with thousands in attendance, the Falcons stayed focused.
“To come from a small town and we’re playing in front of hundreds — they’re big crowds,” said Graf. “Every single game we learned something new, all the way through to the final.”
The support from the community the team received also contributed to their success on the court.
“The fact that we had that support throughout the entire season really helped our kids mentally in finding that (gold medal) win.”
Many of the players will take the experience from nationals and channel it into success on the courts next season as well, noted Graf.
“It’s all a building process. It’s really cool to see results at this level, but next year we got to keep continuing it,” said Graf.