It's pedal to the medal for the rest of the fall for Springbank Community High School's senior girls' volleyball team.
Halfway through the 2022 season, the Springbank team is still unbeaten in divisional play, and preparing to once again compete for banners at the divisional, zone, and provincial level.
The Phoenix are currently dominating the Rocky View Sports Association (RVSA), having swept all four of their first opponents. The Phoenix's last outing saw them sweep the Bert Church Chargers in three sets (25-18, 25-23, 25-16) on Oct. 12.
Head coach Judy Zonneweld touted the team's depth and willingness to work hard in propelling them to a strong start to the season.
“All 12 players out there have a strong work ethic,” she said. “They all get along and support each other. We have a really good mix of skill level. Everyone brings something unique to the team, whether it’s their serving, their hitting, or their passing. We have a nice balance all around.”
In addition to their regular-season schedule, Springbank has played at three tournaments already this season. They won a tournament in Canmore, earned fifth place at a tournament at the University of Calgary (which featured primarily 4A schools) and made it to the semi-finals of a tournament at Airdrie's W.H. Croxford High School.
“We’re just hoping to keep building toward divisional finals,” said Zonneweld. “That’s the first step, and then there’s the zones championships and you need to finish first or second there to get into provincials the following weekend. The month of November, there’s a tournament every weekend, so we’re hoping to play every weekend all the way through.
“We’ll just keep practicing, training and getting all those contacts in. Hopefully we can make it all the way to the provincials.”
Springbank's senior girls' volleyball team has been perennially competitive in the RVSA and South Central Zone for years, having won the division in 2019 and finished runners-up in 2021. They also won the 2019 3A provincial championship.
Some of the school's student-athletes who have gone on to play post-secondary volleyball include 2020 grad Grace Coulter, who is currently playing for SAIT, and Zonneveld's two daughters, Julia (University of Alberta) and Sarah (Toronto Metropolitan University). Other alumni who played or are playing at the post-secondary level include Elyse Hart (University of Alberta) and Carly Kimmett (Western Ontario University).
Zonneweld agreed Springbank Community High has a strong volleyball culture – all four of the school's teams tend to be competitive for league and zone banners, particularly with their neighbour to the northeast.
“We have a rivalry with Cochrane,” she said. “We always play them the last game of the year…and that’s usually for first or second in the division. We enjoy that competition. Cochrane has done well – they’ve gone to provincial championships as much as we have – and it’s nice between the two of us to go to provincials.”
This year's Phoenix roster is a good mix of Grade 11 and 12 players, according to Zonneweld. While they all bring their own skillsets to the table, she referenced three of the team's leaders as Piper Bullivant, Nya Campbell, and Kiana Ong-Padilla.
“We’re thrilled to have such a strong team with everyone contributing,” she said. “I’m proud of these girls. It’s their teamwork that makes them so great.”
The Phoenix will return to their home court on Oct. 19 to face the George McDougall Mustangs in their next regular-season match.
For scores and schedules, visit rvsa.rockyview.ab.ca