Despite being relegated to Division 3 in the Calgary Senior High School Athletic Association (CSHSAA), the St. Martin de Porres Kodiaks senior boys’ volleyball team rallied as a unit and captured its third city championship in seven years.
Following four years of playing in Division 1, the Kodiaks saw numbers drop this season, with just four Grade 12 students on the roster and a lack of a junior team. As a result, the team was placed in Division 3 but has remained a force in the volleyball scene.
“We started the season off knowing we were in the hunt, but there was also a lot of learning and development that needed to take place,” head coach Edmund Crame said. “When I coach, I try to stay away from the focus of winning and focus more on the development.
“This is great for us moving forward.”
The Kodiaks’ push for a city championship was a tough path for the young squad, including a quarterfinal matchup Nov. 14 against the fifth-seeded Forest Lawn Titans, which the Kodiaks won in straight sets.
In the semi-finals, the Kodiaks took on the top-seeded Bowness Trojans Nov. 16, one of the two teams to hand it a loss this season. In a gutsy effort, the Kodiaks won three sets to two and punched its ticket to the finals.
With such a quick turnaround between each of its playoff games, Crame said he preached that his team needed to keep its emotions in check and stay focused on its opponents.
“It doesn’t hurt to play the underdog card, obviously, when you coach,” Crame said. “It’s less pressure for the boys and gives them extra motivation to play through and work harder.”
The Kodiaks faced off with the only other team to beat it in regular season action, the Father Lacombe Lazers, Nov. 18. In similar fashion to how it avenged its loss to the Trojans, the Kodiaks won three sets to two to become Division 3 City Champions for the third time.
Although some would label the fourth-seeded Kodiaks as an underdog heading into the CSHSAA playoffs, the team shared a four-way tie for first place with an 8-2 record, but was seeded lower due to who it lost to through the regular season.
Even though the Kodiaks were demoted to Division 3 this year, Crame said with the team’s success and the group of players he looks to have return next season, he expects his team will move up and compete among higher talent.
“We want to keep challenging ourselves. Our goal isn’t just to keep winning banners, we want to make sure we can keep building the program,” Crame said. “We’ve done a good job of that over the past couple of years and we want to try and get back to that position of playing Division 1 again.”
The season isn’t quite over for the Kodiaks as the team now heads to Strathmore to compete in the Alberta Schools’ Athletic Association 3A Provincial Championships.
The Kodiaks kick off the tournament Nov. 23 when it takes on the Louis St. Laurent Barons.