May 28th, 2024

Zeniths win SAHSVL title, looking ahead to Zones

By Dale Woodard on November 16, 2021.

The Magrath Zeniths boys volleyball team have secured one championship, but the season is far from over.

The Zeniths downed the Chinook Coyotes 3-0 to capture the 2021 Southern Alberta High School Volleyball League varsity boys title Saturday afternoon at the Catholic Central West campus.

Still, with the SAHSVL title secured, the newly-crowned champions are already looking ahead to the 3A Zones this weekend, hosted at Winston Churchill High School.

“It’s huge for any school to be able to pull together a win like that at the end of the season and league playoffs and have that title of champions for the league,” said Zeniths head coach Shane Orr, whose team went 9-0 in the regular season to earn the top seed.

“Our sights are definitely set on other things with the Zones tournament coming up and hopefully qualifying for provincials. We’re humbled to take on the title, but we’re working together as a team for a common goal that isn’t finished yet.”

In Magrath on Saturday, the third-seeded Catholic Central Cougars varsity girls volleyball team captured this year’s SAHSVL title with a win over the top-seeded Chinook Coyotes.

The Cougars went 8-3 in the regular season, while Chinook and the Magrath Pandas were 10-1.

Catholic Central topped the second-ranked Pandas in the semifinals, while the Coyotes downed the fifth-ranked Raymond Comets.

Catholic Central started the weekend with a quarter-finals win over the Winston Churchill Griffins, while Chinook downed the Coaldale Kate Andrews Pride, ranked-ninth.

The boys final at the CCH West campus was a battle of the top-two teams with the Coyotes going 7-2 in the regular season.

“Props go to the Chinook Coyotes, first and foremost,” said Orr. “We’ve battled with them all season and they’re a tough opponent. We have to be on our A-game to beat them. They have incredible talent on the other side of the net. I thought our boys executed the game plan well.”

“They worked together as a team, serving and passing in the end turned out good for us and we were able to pull them out of system enough to hold down some of their big hitters. Defensively we were able to turn some ball into swings for our guys on our side. So it was good.”

The Zeniths defeated the fourth-ranked LCI Rams in the semifinal, while the Coyotes earned their spot in the gold medal game courtesy a win over the fifth-seed Catholic Central Cougars.

For Zeniths Grade 12 middle Nathan Ball, it was fitting to face the Coyotes in the final.

“I was really hoping we would match up against them, so it was a really good game. I think I played some of my best volleyball in a long time.”

It secures the SAHSVL title, but not the longer-term goal Magrath has put in front of them.

“It’s great. It’s what we wanted, so we’re trying to focus on Zones because that’s what’s ahead of us,” said Ball.

After losing most of last season to the COVID-19 pandemic, Ball was simply happy to be back playing.

“We got bit of a season, but it was disappointing,” he said. “Throughout the whole summer I wasn’t sure whether or not we were going to get to have a season at all. Even going go to practice is my favourite thing.:

The feeling is mutual among his teammates.

“These guys love game,” said Ball. “We’re just all happy to be out here playing volleyball because we didn’t think we were going to get to.”

Orr said he and his coaching staff knew they had some special talent when this year’s Zeniths roster took shape.

“(They’re) guys that really love the game of volleyball and put their heart and soul into practice every single day. It’s a fun group to coach and they make it easy to come to the gym every day. They’re a great group of boys.”

Though focused on Zones, Saturday was about enjoying the win.

“We’ll take some time to celebrate,” said Orr. “This is a win worth celebrating, but it’ll be back to work Monday and ready to take on the competition that’s in front of us game-by-game moving into next weekend.”

“We’re just going to focus up in practice,” added Ball. “We’ve been told we have to get first in Zones to go to provincials. It’s what’s ahead of us.”

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