Don’t count out the Ponoka Warriors

The Ponoka U18 Warriors finished tenth at provincials among division 1 club volleyball teams in Alberta. Back row from L to R: Assistant coach Micha Rose

CHARLES TWEED/Ponoka News

When the Ponoka U18 Warriors volleyball club began the 2010-11 season things didn’t look good.

The club draws from a small number of girls compared to other teams and it showed in their pre-season ranking, finding themselves near the bottom of the second division.

“Most clubs’ tryouts have 25 to 50 kids trying to make the team, we took the 13 that we had and they worked hard day in and day out,” said assistant coach Micha Rose.

It seemed the volleyball powers didn’t like the Warriors’ chances of winning many sets let alone games this season but luckily the 13 girls that make up the squad didn’t feel the same way.

Each tournament the club team played seem to bring the team closer together, all the while, becoming better players under the tutelage of coach Joely Hanke and assistant Rose.

It was a consolation win in Calgary that not only gave the team confidence but pushed them into the top 10 of division 2. Their strong and consistent play continued and soon the team had earned a spot in division 1. The storybook season continued when they were invited to provincials in Calgary. A strong showing resulted in a tenth place finish.

“To come from the bottom of the pack to the top 10 in the province was an amazing feat and the girls improved each premiere they attended and they faced a lot of tough teams,” said Rose.

The next step would be a trip to nationals in Abbotsford, B.C. where the girls faced teams from as far away as Nova Scotia and finished second earning a silver medal in division 2, tier 2 after a narrow loss to the Calgary Titans in the final.

In the end, the Warriors were just that, a group of small town girls, that like their name, banded together to scrap and claw out wins. Eventually it took a Titan to defeat them but not before they earned the respect of their competitors and admiration of a town.

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