Skyhawks spike PK
St. Albert High undefeated in premier women's volleyball after sweeping the Blues
By: Jeff Hansen
| Posted: Wednesday, Oct 17, 2012 03:15 pm
The St. Albert Skyhawks served up a sweeping victory over the Paul Kane Blues in premier women’s volleyball Monday.
The undefeated Skyhawks rolled over the two-time defending metro Edmonton champions 25-21, 25-14, 25-23 at the SkyDome.
“They’ve been a really good team all these years so we had to do our best. We played as a team and won,” said Sara Rubuliak, a Grade 12 Skyhawks middle.
The Skyhawks are off to a blazing 4-0 start, with only three sets lost.
“It always means something to beat a team. You have to come out with that mentality that you’re going to win and no matter how good the team is you have to keep going and bring the intensity up,” Rubuliak said.
The Blues are 1-3 with only Alysha Hinecker and Emma Cunningham back from the team’s fourth-place finish at the 2011 provincial 4A championship.
All-star middle Whitney Follette, a standout for the Blues during three straight trips to provincials, is now a starting freshman with the Arizona State University Sun Devils.
“We’re definitely a fresh team,” said Hinecker, Paul Kane’s captain. “We are good individual players, we just have to come together as one and move on the court as one.”
The Blues remain positive after losing their third match in three sets.
“Through the ups and downs we’ve stuck together as a team and worked together as a team and that is what is really helping us right now as we push through it,” Hinecker said. “We’ve not let the ball drop on our side and we’ve not got mad at each other. Practices are just as hard as they’ve always been and we’re pushing to get better.”
The Skyhawks have their sights set on a premier championship and winning a zone berth for the 3A provincials next month in Camrose.
“We’re going to come out strong and try win all of our games and make it to provincials. We have a good shot and we can do it,” Rubuliak said.
The big test is the Oct. 29 match against the Bev Facey Falcons in Sherwood Park. Last year’s premier finalists are ranked third in 4A and have not dropped a set in four matches in league play.
“We’ve got some competition out there but we can win if we can put some heart into it,” Rubuliak said. “We have good chemistry, we just need to bring up our team play some more.”
The pre-season Griffin Invitational Tournament champions were good but not great against the Blues.
“We seem to play better against teams that hit a lot at us,” Rubuliak said. “We’ve definitely had some better competition that we’ve played a lot better against and I think the next time we can beat them by a lot more.”
Hinecker, 17, said the Blues didn’t play up to their potential against the Skyhawks.
“We definitely could’ve brought more to that game,” said the Grade 12 right-side player. “It was a bit of an emotional game. We did battle and we did want that game, we just needed to pull our stuff together.”
The first set was a back and forth affair until the Skyhawks rattled off four points in a row after a Paul Kane timeout to lead 24-18. Rubuliak and power hitter Amber Easthope made good plays at the net for points and Kayla Ivicak’s serving contributed to the late surge in the set.
The Blues rebounded with a three-point run before Easthope, the Skyhawks captain, tapped the ball down for the winning point.
In the next set the Blues strung six points together with Mackenzie Hodgson serving and solid team blocking for an early 7-1 lead.
It was 8-4 for the Blues when the Skyhawks pulled ahead briefly by one with five points in a row.
The Blues would go on to even the score four times before jumping ahead 14-13. The Skyhawks tied it with a block, then pounded out 10 consecutive points with Sarah Karasiuk at the serving line to win the set.
“It started out a bit rough but then at the end we really showed them what we’re made of and beat them by quite a bit,” said Rubuliak, 17.
In the third set, Ivicak’s presence in the middle and Rubuliak’s serving during a four-point run put the Skyhawks on top 9-6.
The teams would exchange points through a combination of miscues and timely hits. Serves by Brooke Posty and Hodgson, plus the work of Hinecker and Cunningham at net, allowed the Blues to keep pace with the Skyhawks.
The Skyhawks would go on to erase a 20-17 deficit with four consecutive points behind the strong serving of Taylor Thompson. They quickly closed out the match after the Blues made it 23-22.
“We didn’t really jump to the gun,” Hinecker said.
MATCH POINTS: Today at 4:45 p.m. the Skyhawks visit the St. Francis Xavier Rams (3-0).
The Blues don’t play until Monday, when they host the Rams at 6:15 p.m.
Thursday at the 18th annual Lions Western Canadian Challenge tournament the Skyhawks play the Bawlf Wildcats at 1 p.m. and the Peace Wapiti Academy Titans of Grande Prairie at 6:15 p.m. in pool C round robin action at the SkyDome.
This is the second year in a row the Blues are not competing in the tournament after winning it in 2009 and 2010.
Visit www.mchs.gsacrd.ab.ca/wcc/ for schedules and venue locations.