While they weren’t able to pull off a golden sweep at home last weekend, the Lindsay Thurber Comprehensive High School Raiders volleyball teams showed they were a force to be reckoned with during the Alberta High Schools Athletic Association (AHSAA) 4A Volleyball Provincials.
Both the boys and girls took home silver medals from the annual tournament, which was hosted by Lindsay Thurber from Thursday through Saturday last week.
“We’re just completely elated. It’s just a really wonderful result for our teams. We battled hard all year and fought for rankings and wanted to be provincially competitive,” said Kirsten Dezutter, the head coach of the LTCHS Raiders girls’ team.
Dezutter said her team is pleased with their result over the course of the week.
“We’re really pleased with the result and really proud of our team and of the effort,” she said.
The girls team got off to a fantastic start to the week, going undefeated in round robin play on Thursday to lock up first place in their pool and book a trip to the quarter final on Friday night against a familiar foe in the Notre Dame High School Cougars.
But the girls wouldn’t let their City league rivals slow them down, fending off Notre Dame in four sets.
They continued that momentum through the semi-final against William Aberhart High School, which they swept in three sets to clinch a spot in the final against the Jasper Place High School Rebels.
Unfortunately, that’s where the winning streak ended, as the Rebels swept past the hometown girls in three sets to take home provincial gold.
“I really thought that Jasper Place played very, very well. I would say that on our part we didn’t play our best volleyball. I was still proud of the effort and the fight for each point and the battle for each point but it did seem like even in those long rallies and long battles, most of those didn’t really seem to go our way,” Dezutter said, adding she couldn’t have asked any more from the group of girls.
“It was an awesome season. We had a group of 12 athletes that were committed to each other and they were all about team. There was no selfishness at all and everyone was supportive and encouraging from beginning to end.”
Meanwhile, the Thurber boys were enthralled in a very similar story.
The guys finished third in their pool to avoid the extra round of 16 match and set up a rematch of the zone final against Notre Dame in the quarter final, which they won.
From there, they continued on to post a 3-1 win over Edmonton Christian to set up a final matchup against the E.P. Scarlett High School Lancers.
“They’re just a really solid team. They’ve got one player that goes out to Trinity Western and plays a whole bunch out there and he raised his level of game. It’s kind of one of those situations where, you know, if they played their best then I don’t think it mattered what anybody else did,” said boys’ Head Coach Terence McMullen of the final, which Scarlett won in three straight sets.
“I’m proud of my guys. They battled hard and they fought for every point. We made them work and earn everything. The difference in the game was their blocking was just — you know they had two blocks up on everything and when you’ve got a guy who’s six-six and can jump 35 to 40 inches it’s tough to get the ball past them.”
Still, McMullen said the second place finish on home court was something extremely special.
“At then end of the day, we’re very proud of finishing second and to be able to experience and to be able to play in front of our home crowd and the support that we saw from our fans — not only from people around our school but from everybody in the volleyball community in Red Deer — was awesome.
“We know that we left everything we had on the floor.”