By Greg Price
At least on paper, it looks like it will be anyone’s game come 2A boys volleyball provincials which start Thursday at Strathcona-Tweedsmuir School.
St. Mary’s Celtics boys volleyball team secured the South Zone 2A Boys banner at Lethbridge College earlier this month and judging by results of provincial contenders this weekend, the field looks to have parity from south to north.
The Celtics play two matches on Thursday and three on Friday to see if they will make at least the quarterfinals on Saturday.
“There will be two pools of six where the bottom three will be out and the top three move onto the playoffs from each pool,” said Derry Kolody, head coach of the St. Mary’s Celtics boys volleyball team. “The first-place team in each pool gets a bye into the semifinals where two and three cross over.”
The Celtics have had a glance at Rundle College which St. Mary’s played in its first tournament of the season where the teams split.
“Some of the teams we haven’t played, Immanuel Christian which we beat (for the zone banner), they played Calgary Christian, CASH went three sets with,” said Kolody. “I talked with the Immanuel Christian coach and they feel like they are pretty competitive with some of the other top 2A boys teams in the province. If he feels pretty confident going in, so should we.”
Some teams are perennial invitees to the provincial tournament, but as Kolody noted that may be a byproduct of the team’s particular zone being a weak one.
Nevertheless, simply having that provincial experience can play a big role in calming down the butterflies on the biggest stage of a player’s high school volleyball career.
“For them it could be just another tournament even though it’s not just another tournament. It can have that ‘oooooo….it’s provincials feel’ which I’m a little worried about because maybe the boys will think they have to do something different than they have already done to get here,” said Kolody of a relatively young Celtics team that has only two seniors and a rookie Grade 10 setter in Mason Muller. “I just want them to keep it simple and have fun.”
If the St. Mary’s Celtics are to get beat at 2A boys volleyball provincials this week, Kolody would prefer it is by the team on the other side of the net that is beating them.
“We have to minimize our unforced errors. A lot of time when we have lost, it is because our unforced errors have been where we have tended to beat ourselves where we are shooting ourselves in the foot,” said Kolody. “If we can cut down those mistakes and have guys like Kaleb Muller and Lucas Dykstra swinging, those are pretty big offensive weapons that teams are going to have a hard time slowing down.”
Kolody pointed to an attack that is deep where it will all have to start from the source in the back row.
“Again in volleyball, it’s all about the passing. You have as big of an attack as you want, if you can’t get the ball there it doesn’t matter,” said Kolody. “If you can pass the ball, you give yourself a chance. Size wise I think we are one of the bigger teams and offensively I think we have four or five weapons where a lot of 2A teams have a couple of studs who swing out at power, but are not as deep as we are offensively.”