BY ZACHARY CORMIER
It has been 11 years since the last time the Central Alberta Christian High School Knights boys’ volleyball team has captured provincial gold. But last weekend, that drought was brought to a definitive halt.
The CACHS Knights captured the fifth provincial boys volleyball championship in school history after a stellar performance at the Alberta High Schools Athletics Association 2A Provincials in Black Diamond last Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
“It was an amazing weekend. All of the hard work kind of paid off,” said Knights Coach Matthew Keller of the weekend, which saw the local team go undefeated to claim the title.
The team, which headed into the provincials as the heavy favourites after putting up 45 wins and just three losses in the regular season, showed no signs of slowing down in the most important tournament of the year.
They didn’t waste any time asserting their dominance, either, as they charged through the round robin seeding round on Friday to secure a bye to the semi-final matchup against St. Michael’s High School out of Pincher Creek.
“The semi-final was very, very tight. We lost the first set and just pulled out a tight third set. So the whole playoffs this year were close for us. They played a really unorthodox style, which can make it really challenging. But we managed to pull it out,” Keller said of the penultimate match, which the Knights managed to win 2-1 in a tightly contested game.
Similarly, the final game against Rundle College from Calgary was no cake walk.
Although the CACHS team won the three-set game 2-0 (25-16, 25-23), it almost ended up going to a third frame. In fact, at one point in the second set, the Knights trailed Rundle 20-23.
“That second set was probably as good of volleyball as I saw all year,” Keller said, adding that it even topped the games that his team played against 4A schools earlier this year.
“(Rundle) had this one power hitter that was just on fire. As good as we could play we couldn’t completely shut him down. But we managed to make a couple of adjustments and turn around a couple of defensive balls to turn around the tight match.”
This victory is especially sweet for a team which lost in the final of that same tournament last season, coming away with silver.
“Last year we were the underdogs. We only had a couple of Grade 12s on the starting line. So we knew that this year the expectations would be a little bit higher. But the guys handled the expectations well.”
Keller, who is a volunteer coach, added that he wanted to thank the school community who pitched in to make the sports program a success.
“It is a full parent and team effort.”