WESTLOCK – Hopes of playing for a 2022 1A North Central Zone banner for St. Mary School’s senior girls volleyball team ended in a heartbreaking, five-set conference loss to the Thorhild Central School Bulldogs.
Played in Thorhild Nov. 15, the Sharks opened the winner-take-all match with convincing 25-9 and 25-15 victories in the first two sets, then dropped the final three by the slimmest of margins, 22-25, 24-26 and 13-15 — with the conference win, Thorhild moved on to the 1A zone championship in Redwater Nov. 18-19.
First-year head coach Jordyn Walker, a SMS alumni and recent Bachelor of Education grad, said it was a tough end to the season against a club they had previously beaten at their home tourney, the Joe Nestorovich Memorial Volleyball Tournament, Oct. 21-22.
“It was definitely one you don’t want to lose, but that’s the way it goes sometimes,” she said the morning after the defeat.
Walker said the conference result highlighted their youth as the Sharks counted only a single senior on the roster, eight girls in Grades 9-11 and even a Grade 8er who practiced with them during the year. During their tournament season, the Sharks had several decent showings and collected a bronze in their first action of the year at the R.F. Staples JV Girls Volleyball Tournament held Sept. 30 to Oct. 1, then finished in a tie for third/fourth at their home event.
“Being such a young team, our mental part of the game just wasn’t consistent enough. We’ve got a lot of really good athletes on the team, but where we struggled was with the mental parts of the game … and I mean everybody does, no matter how much experience you have,” she said.
Looking back, Walker called 2022 a “building year” as they spent most of the campaign working on fundamentals and said she hopes to be behind the bench again in 2023 to continue the work.
“I’ve taught some of these girls in the past but getting to know them as volleyball athletes was really good. I love the girls, so it was a fantastic experience for me,” she concluded.