By Greg Price
As the St. Mary’s Celtics boys volleyball team marches to 2A provincials which it will be hosting, early returns are positive with how the team has fared in its first two tournaments.
The first was the pre-season tournament in Fort Macleod which the Celtics won.
“We did drop a few sets throughout the weekend, but being the first tournament of the year, you are going to have some things that are a little rough,” said Derry Kolody, head coach of the St. Mary’s Celtics boys volleyball team. “It was the same as previous years where you don’t expect that first tournament to go quite as smooth.”
Nevertheless, the Celtics reached the championship final where it swept Crowsnest Pass.
“We just cleaned things up where we didn’t make as many unforced errors. The scores were relatively close, but it wasn’t indicative of the match. We were in control the whole time for the two sets,” said Kolody.
This past weekend, the Celtics competed in a Lethbridge College tournament that was chalk full of 3A and 4A teams and finished seventh out of 16 teams.
The Celtics battled the Cardston Cougars in its quarterfinal match and ended up losing in three sets.
“We lost to a team that had a ton of offence. Up to that point, we hadn’t played any teams that you really turn your head at and say ‘Who’s that guy? Who’s that team?’ So it was a really good test to go three sets with them,” said Kolody.
The Celtics then battled Immanuel Christian whose prominence in volleyball has elevated them to the Southern Alberta High School Boys Volleyball League that features many 3A and 4A teams in its schedule. The Celtics lost 23-25, 21-25.
“I was talking to their coach and they figure they are about fourth in that league. So that was a good test with the Lethbridge schools,” said Kolody. “I came out of Saturday pumped, we were competitive with some really tough teams. I used that as a benchmark where I know we will be able to compete in 2A.”
Kolody admits there is a different dynamic to the team which is 10 players deep this season, compared to last year where plenty of the offence went through senior Kaleb Muller.
“The offence will be run through all our players in the front. It is a completely different style of volleyball. It will be a more unconventional, scrappy style of volleyball,” said Kolody. “It will rely on forcing the other team into a lot of unforced errors. We will keep it scrappy on our side, the spunky team that is going to battle you every point.”
The offence will have some diversity to it thanks to Mason Muller which Kolody notes is one of the best setters in southern Alberta, as passing will also be anchored by liberos Jobert Cruz and Rory Murphy.
“We will be that blue collar team that is going to bring its tool kit and lunch box to work every day. We will make the other team work for its points,” said Kolody. “The compete level is there at 2A and I think we are going to be good as long as we can stay healthy and injury free. It’s a long haul to provincials.”
The Celtics are off this weekend before returning to action in a tournament in Bow Island on the Sept. 30 weekend.