In a thrilling cross-city matchup for senior boys volleyball supremacy, the George McDougall Mustangs needed five-sets to dispatch the Bert Church Chargers and capture the Rocky View Sports Association (RVSA) bronze medal Nov. 8.
Although it wasn’t the medal the Mustangs had hoped to be playing for, head coach Storm Lafferty said the win was an excellent way to bounce back after falling to the Springbank Phoenix in the semi-finals Nov. 6.
“(The semi-finals) was a bit of a gut-check for the boys, and today’s game was about digging deep and getting some integrity back as a team,” Lafferty said. “This was more of a mental victory, regardless of what the outcome was.
“The way the boys played, in our minds as a coaching staff, was way more rewarding than any kind of placing.”
Lafferty said adversity had been the Achilles heel for the team throughout the season and the gutsy, five-set victory was the result the team needed to get over its major flaw.
“Rebounding from being down is something we’ve struggled with as a team previously,” Lafferty said. “It was nice to see the guys were able to learn from our past experiences and use that in this game to bounce back, dig deep and find that energy.”
The Mustangs came in as the favourites, having finished second in the regular season standings with a 4-1 record and knocking off the Chargers in straight-sets in the season finale Oct. 25.
Lafferty said defeating the same team, the same time in a season is always a challenge, especially in a rivalry game.
The Mustangs got off to a quick start in the third-place game, winning the first set in convincing fashion 25-7.
The plucky Chargers started to put doubt in the Mustangs minds when it took the second set 25-23. Following the closely contested second set, the game was a much more even battle as both teams rallied and scored clutch points to split the third and fourth sets one a piece and force a decisive fifth set.
The battle didn’t stop in the fifth set, as the Mustangs barely won 15-13, avenging its set back two days prior.
Although the team pulled out the victory, Lafferty said it definitely needed to clean up on unforced errors and avoid giving up too many points to opponents as it turns its attention to the Alberta Schools’ Athletic Association (ASAA) 3A South Central Zone Championships Nov. 17 and 18.
In addition to the boys playing, the Mustangs senior girls’ team played host to the Springbank Phoenix Nov. 8 in the third-place matchup.
Unfortunately, the Mustangs couldn’t overcome a stingy Phoenix counter attack and dropped three straight sets after winning the opening set 25-18.
Although the team wasn’t able to end its season with a win, the team will be taking part in the ASAA Zones, but its games will be in Canmore.
Despite the disappointing loss, the girls were a powerhouse, finishing third in the regular season and falling a game short of playing for gold.
“The girls pulled together as a team,” head coach Ivy Cebak said. “I am so proud of the girls.”