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Bumpy beginnings for high school volleyball teams

Sturgeon, Bellerose, and Alexandre Tache girls' teams are back on the court this week for games on Sept. 21. Bellerose, Sturgeon, and SACHS senior boys' teams are back in action Sept. 24, with Paul Kane back at it Sept. 26. Alexandre Tache boys' team plays again Sept. 21

With most teams through the first two games of the new volleyball season, many of St. Albert's high schools are off to a bumpy start.

Opening the season on Wednesday, Sept. 14, the senior girls' teams for Bellerose Composite High School, Ecole Secondaire St. Albert Catholic High School (SACHS), and Paul Kane High School all lost their match-ups. 

The Bellerose senior girls' team, playing in division two, managed to win a set but took the 3-1 loss against Edmonton Christian High School. In division one play, Bev Facey swept the SACHS senior girls 3-0.

The Paul Kane Blues season-opener on Sept. 14 was spoiled by the 2021 championship-winning Strathcona Lords as the powerful-looking Lords won three straight sets. 

In an interview after the game, Blues coach McLean Cruthers said wins and losses won't define the team this year.

"We’re not always worried about the wins [and] losses but those little moments inside the games," Cruthers said. "Develop some athletes, players, and just good people and the results come.

"The goal is to have fun and hopefully grow volleyball players for life beyond high school."

Cruthers, entering his fourth year of coaching the senior girls at Paul Kane, said the team has just five returning players on this year's team of 12.

"It’s good to have those returners for the leadership to help bring in the new players and get some development in with them and learn from the older players,” Cruthers said. 

“I think it’s a great group of girls and they’re going to have fun and they’re going to come together in those key moments."

As all of Paul Kane's volleyball teams are playing their final season in the school's current gym, Cruthers said the Blues will be putting in the work to make this year a memorable one.

"We’re excited to go and play hard in this gym for the last time.”

Playing in division four, the Sturgeon Composite High School senior girls' team came out victorious in their season opener on Sept. 14 as the Spirit defeated Old Scona Academic three sets to two.

“We are feeling very optimistic and excited for the opportunity to be able to play again this year," Spirit coach Keely Holterhus said in an email.

"Last year, we struggled with a lot of unknowns, but we’re back this year with a new energy.” 

The big goals for the Spirit this year, Holterhus said, is developing mentally and physically.

“I think we have a great group of girls with us, which makes us an all-around solid team."

Ecole Alexandre Tache's senior girls' team opened their division four season on Monday, Sept. 19, with a stiff loss to Old Scona, 3-0.

On Sept. 19, two of the schools showed they were just warming up, as Bellerose defeated Lillian Osborne 3-1, and Paul Kane defeated Bev Facey 3-1 to earn their first wins of the year.

SACHS won their first two sets of the season, but eventually lost to Harry Ainlay 3-2 on Sept. 19. The result of Sturgeon's Sept. 19 game versus Leduc's Christ the King High School was not posted in time for The Gazette's press deadline on Tuesday afternoon.

Only Sturgeon, Bellerose, and Alexandre Tache are back on the court this week for games on Sept. 21. The Spirit will head to Victoria High School for a game at 5:30 p.m.; the Bulldogs will be on the road against St. Peter the Apostle at 6:30 p.m.; and Alexandre Tache takes on Edmonton Islamic Academy at 6:30 p.m.

Senior boys

St. Albert's senior boys' volleyball teams got off to an equally tough start to the season as three local schools dropped their first game of the season, while Sturgeon's senior boys' team won their game.

SACHS came out on the losing end of a tight game 3-2 in a division two contest against Edmonton Christian on Sept. 14. Playing St. Oscar Romero Catholic High School in division three play, Bellerose lost 3-1. Sturgeon handily defeated Old Scona Academic in straight sets to open division four play. The Paul Kane Blues opened their season on Sept. 19 with a loss to Harry Ainlay, 3-1.

In an interview after an exhibition game against Jasper Place High School on Sept. 14, the head coach of Paul Kane's senior boys' team, Ben Grabia, told The Gazette the Blues have eight rookies on this year's team of 13.

"We’ve got a young group of guys this year," Grabia said. "We’re hoping that we can grow as a team and we can be the best in November.

"Right now doesn’t really matter, we’re just thinking about November.”

Grabia said the Blues will be looking for strong leadership this season from the team's captain, Nathan Baumle. 

"I’m really excited about him," Grabia said. 

“Our other left side, Ricky Paproski, is another guy who I think could play at the next level.”

Two of the senior boys' teams played their second games of the season on Sept. 19, and improvement was seen across the board.

Bellerose defeated Maurice Lavallee three sets to one, while SACHS defeated Lillian Osborne in a tight match, 3-2.

Three teams are back in action on Sept. 24, as Bellerose has an away game against Beaumont High School starting at 5 p.m.; Sturgeon will travel to St. Andre Bessette Catholic School in Fort Saskatchewan for a game at 5 p.m.; and SACHS will be away against St. Peter the Apostle at 5 p.m.

Paul Kane's next game is scheduled for Monday, Sept. 26 against St. Francis Xavier at 6:30 p.m.

Alexandre Tache plays their first game of the division four season against Edmonton Islamic Academy on Sept. 21 at 5 p.m.

Jack Farrell

About the Author: Jack Farrell

Jack Farrell joined the St. Albert Gazette in May, 2022.
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