CACHS volleyball teams bring home provincial hardware

The Central Alberta Christian High School Knights girls volleyball team celebrates a gold win at the ASAA 1A Provincials. Photo supplied

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The Central Alberta Christian High School (CACHS) Knights volleyball teams had a great weekend with the girls winning gold and the boys winning bronze at the 1A ASAA provincial championships.

The 1A (1-99 students) championship for boys was held in Bashaw and for the girls it was in Bassano. It was the first provincial championship for the CACHS Knights girls’ volleyball program.

After a bitter bronze medal finish in 2017 at the Central Zone tournament, the girls’ volleyball team was eager to achieve higher in 2018. The girls won the Central Zone 1A championship last weekend in Bawlf, and started the provincial championship tournament excited to compete because they had achieved their season goal of qualifying. Going to the gym for opening ceremonies was a great experience as the team met the Bassano grade one class and their host Morgan, who supported and cheered on the Knights for the duration of the tournament. The Bassano tournament organizers put on an awesome tournament by making each team feel supported, while also encouraging sportsmanship and camaraderie  between the teams.

The Knights finished third in their pool after losing to the home team Bassano Broncos and St. Thomas More Kodiaks (Fairview). The Knights went on to win their quarter-final match in two sets against their zone rival Bawlf, and moved to their semi-final match versus St. Thomas More. Undefeated in the tournament and the favourite for gold, the St. Thomas More Kodiaks were a daunting opponent, however, the Knights continued their improbable run and battled to win in two sets. The girls were ecstatic and excited to play for gold.

In the final, the Knights faced the hometown Broncos again and were able to pull off a heart-stopping 17-15 win in the third set to claim the championship.

The Knights were led by a strong group of Grade 12’s and excellent coaching by head coach Tashelle Loov and assistant coaches Carlee Vandekraats and Shalyn Lindballe. Kaysey Bajema and Taylor Salomons captained the team, and were supported by veterans of Emma Lahucik, Hailey Wildeboer, Sierra Macdonald, and Raya TenBrinke. While many teams at the 1A level rely mainly on one or two players, the Knights had a versatile group of hitters allowing them to threaten in every rotation.

Not expecting to win gold coming into the tournament, the Knights first goal was to make the play-off round, and from there they took it game by game. Supporting the Knights in Bassano was an amazing fan base and support system of family and friends, who really helped give energy throughout the tournament.

On the boys’ side, the Knights also had a great 2018 season. After losing key veterans from last year’s provincial championship team, the 2018 Knights felt they had something to prove. Head Coach Kim Keating and her assistant coaches Eric Talsma, Jordan Baong, Steve Keating, and Noah Keating steadied the boys through an impressive regular season. They finished first in Central Zone’s 1A West League with an undefeated record, and went on without a loss through the zone championships.

A younger team led by captain Reuben (bEnnie) Wildeboer and fellow veteran Theo Ollewagen, the Knights entered the provincial championship tournament with a medal in their sights. They finished second in pool play behind the Bassano Broncos, and won a tough quarter-final match against the St. Thomas More Kodiaks (Fairview). In the semifinal, the Knights were matched against the undefeated tournament favourites, the Senator Gershaw Gators (Bow Island).

The Knights played well and pushed the Gators more than any other tournament opponent, but ended up losing 26-24 and 25-19. For the bronze medal the Knights got a rematch from a loss the night before with the Bassano Broncos. In a hard fought match the Knights lost the first set 23-25, but rebounded in the second set winning 25-15 and a thrilling 20-18 third set win to claim the bronze medal.

Congratulations to both teams and their respective coaching staffs on an impressive season. Go! Knights! Go!

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