WESTLOCK - St. Mary School’s hopes for at least a Top 4 finish at the eight-team 1A North Central Zone Boys Volleyball Championship Tournament played Nov. 18-19 at the Rotary Spirit Centre, ended prematurely with a razor-thin, two-set loss in the quarterfinals to the Living Waters Christian Academy Warriors.
The Saturday-afternoon 24-26, 23-25 defeat capped a solid weekend for the Sharks at the zones as they went 2-1 in the round robin with two-set wins over Slave Lake, 25-9, 25-12, and Calmar, 25-18, 25-15, but lost 16-25, 25-27 to the eventual zone champs from Jasper, who didn’t drop a set all weekend long.
Sharks’ coach Vance Nakonechny said their youth and inexperience showed in the defeat to Living Waters, the third-place team from the other pool that counted a ton of experience with four Grade 12s. Although the Sharks had beaten the Warriors earlier in the year during tournament play, the tables had been turned in their most-recent matches.
“We’re a pretty young team and in those tight moments sometimes we would get a little too tentative, tip a little too much or be afraid to make a mistake and that kind of hurt us,” said Nakonechny, noting their best match of the weekend was when they pushed Jasper to brink in the second set.
Looking forward the Sharks will graduate three Grade 12s from the roster, with the remainder returning. With all the building blocks in place for success, Nakonechny says the Sharks just need more court experience to take the next step.
“We’re going to be pretty solid next year. This past year was definitely a good learning experience for us and a lot of fun, but we’re definitely going to try and play in a few more tournaments next year,” he concluded.