The defending Rocky View Sports Association (RVSA) senior boys volleyball champion, W.H. Croxford Cavaliers, have a different look coming into the 2017 season.
Following an impressive run where the team rolled through the RVSA playoffs en route to the school’s first-ever RVSA title last seaspm, a total of seven of the eight players on the roster have graduated or moved on from the team, leaving one returnee and a crop of new talent left to try and defend its championship.
“Most of the teams know we are kind of rebuilding this year,” head coach Carol Smith said. “It doesn’t feel like we have a huge target, but it would be nice to win that championship again.”
Although the team is much younger than last season, with limited experience playing at the senior level, Smith said she is happy to see some growth in her team over the first two weeks.
With a strong crop coming from the junior squad, which won bronze medals two years in a row, a strong foundation is being put in place.
“The kids that are in Grade 11 know next year we will be bigger and strong,” Smith said. “They’re looking at this year like they’ll go out and try their best and we’re just going to get better every game.”
According to Smith, the team’s run for an RVSA title last year put volleyball on the map at Croxford, and students have become more involved in the sport. This year, the senior boys team had to hold try-outs and cut players to get the roster down to a manageable 12 players.
Smith said with the increase in players she is able to run better practices and can cycle in more players throughout the season to give them as much experience as possible.
Among all the changes from last season, one thing remains the same, as Grade 12 athlete Jack Joyce returns as the senior member. Coming off his first year of playing high school volleyball, Joyce has stepped into a leadership role and has been there to help Smith establish a new foundation with the team this season.
“(Joyce) has been so good with everybody. He encourages, gives 110 per cent and is proud of the fact he was on that team last year,” Smith said.
The RVSA season continues for the Cavaliers Oct. 4 when it heads on the road to take on the Springbank Phoenix in a rematch from last season’s finals.