College knowledge of benefit to Queens and Broncs

Fans treated to exhibition match between Cougars and Griffins

Grant MacEwan women’s volleyball head coach Ken Briggs talks to PCHS Broncs about skills needed for the game.

Grant MacEwan women’s volleyball head coach Ken Briggs talks to PCHS Broncs about skills needed for the game.

By Dale Cory

For young players on the St. Augustine and Ponoka Composite High School volleyball teams, it was the chance of a lifetime.

This past weekend, members of the Queens and Broncs senior girls’ volleyball teams got to watch some of the best, and learn some of the skills that landed these players in the Alberta Collegiate Athletic Conference (ACAC).

When the Mount Royal University and Grant MacEwan University women’s volleyball teams made a stop at St. Augustine school, it gave some of Ponoka’s up and coming volleyball players the opportunity to take in the knowledge many of the top volleyball players in Alberta could pass along.

Players from both teams worked out with Grant McEwan players Friday. Grant McEwan coach Ken Briggs gave pointers to the girls throughout the evening.

He said the camp makes his players better, “Our kids get as much out of it as the Ponoka kids do.”

It was the type of knowledge young players such as 16-year-old Alison Beier of the Queens could use to eventually excel in an Alberta university or college upon graduating from high school.

“I really liked the part of them always cheering for us. If we passed and didn’t get it, they would say, ‘Nice touch, nice touch’ They were really supportive in helping us. They had really good ideas too. They said, ‘Yeah, I do this too, and here’s how I fixed it.’” said Beier, a captain in her second season with the Queens. “I’m a setter on my team, so they pulled setters apart and we worked with their setters. They would talk about the difficulties I have, like maybe I don’t get my hands on the ball as much as I should. They pulled me aside and really helped me.”

While players learned skills, fans got to watch the best volleyball they will see all season. A total of 122 people turned out for Saturday exhibition match.

“It’s obviously an amazing experience. This is the third year in a row the two teams have come to Ponoka. Every year, our two school teams get to practice with them and learn a lot, and our girls can see where they want to be in a few years,” said Queens head coach Darren Josephison. “Both teams have been very nurturing. They spend a long time with our girls. They’re not just putting in time. They care and the girls really appreciate that. The coaches from Grant MacEwan and Mount Royal really emphasize that nurturing.”

As an example, Josephison explained the type of off-season training girls playing ACAC volleyball must participate in to prepare them for the season.

“Our girls learned on court the intensity and work ethic, and how much-more mental the game is. Our girls saw so many things done at a higher level,” said Josephison. “It’s possible some of them may play at that level someday. The kids are starting to see they do have a chance to play at another level.”

St. Augustine grads Cheyenne Hinckley, Lisa Marie McLennan and Payden Millar, and Ponoka Composite graduate Victoria Rose, are playing at a level a notch below the ACAC, and could someday move up to play college or university volleyball.

“It’s really good to see how they do it,” summarized Beier, who is thinking about pursuing volleyball at the college level after graduation. “It seems like they’re way better than me, but some of them are only two years older.”

As for the match itself, Mount Royal University took Grant MacEwan University in four games. The Cougars took the first two games by scores of 25-23 and 25-16. Grant MacEwan stayed alive with a 25-19 victory in the third game, but the Cougars finished off the Griffins 25-20 in the fourth game.