WESTLOCK – The Westlock Volleyball Club 16U Blue mined silver at the 35-team Volleyball Alberta Premier 3 championships last weekend and with it, earned the right to take on the top clubs in province next month.
At the championships played at the 7 Chiefs Sportsplex in Calgary March 18-19, the boys finished second in Pool ‘E’ behind the Lethbridge Volleyball Club (LVC) White, then posted 2-0 wins over the East Kootenay Volleyball Club in a crossover and the Precision Volleyball Club in the quarterfinals, then downed the Calgary-based Smokin Aces 2-1 in the semifinals which not only qualified them for the final, but the Premier 1 championship in Red Deer April 15-16. In the final, the boys simply ran out of gas and fell 2-0 to LVC Blue, a club that went undefeated at the event.
Coach Aaron Graf said while they would have liked to have brought home gold, just qualifying for Premier 1 is a huge accomplishment as only the Top 12 teams get an invite — heading into that event, Westlock will be seeded 11th.
“We’re the only small town in Alberta to make it, there’s no teams from places like Red Deer or Grande Prairie, as all the teams are from Calgary, Edmonton and Lethbridge. It’s an awesome accomplishment for sure,” said Graf, the day after the event wrapped.
Between now and the Tier 1 tourney, Graf said they’ll get into some exhibition games with some past Barrhead and Westlock college players and “maybe even some other guys” just to stay sharp. Last year at the 15U level, this club, which counts players from Westlock, Barrhead and Athabasca, had a season for the ages and claimed the division 2 provincial and national titles.
“Our goal at this upcoming event is to make the quarterfinals, so Top 8. But I want us to push as far as we can go,” said Graf. “We have a high ceiling with this group of kids. Last year, we did very well at division 2 with the provincial and national titles, but my goal was to move up and show that we don’t belong at that level. And we proved that this past weekend.”