An experienced group of volleyball players are off on the right track this season.
The Ponoka Secondary Campus (PSC) Broncs senior girls club began their central Alberta league regular season last week at home to Camrose, knocking the Trojans off their horse in straight sets Sept. 19 by scores of 25-23, 25-21, 25-21.
According to head coach Ron Labrie, the opening match victory was not unexpected given the way the team prepared for the season.
“I thought that we did very well. I was concerned a bit when we received some push back late in each set,” he said.
“However, the girls’ resolve was impressive. It is a testament to their character to handle the pressure so late in each set.”
One reason behind the team’s ability to stem the tide lies in the amount of Grade 12 players — six — and the expertise they bring and impart to the two Grade 11 and two Grade 10 players. For Labrie, the mix means he has a good balance of returning and new players.
For the most part, it was the club’s defence that powered the Broncs through for the victory.
“Our defensive play will likely be one of our strengths this season. We have solid blocking and great hustle to track down errant digs,” Labrie added.
“I always lean on my senior players to be a solid foundation for the club. I am confident that they will carry the day. It is an added bonus that the younger players have a good skill set and will push the seniors to be their best.”
However, the close margin in each set shows there remains work to do in practice, mainly consistency in two areas of the game that are important in any rally.
“Serving and passing consistency. In addition, I am hoping we become less robotic on the floor and improve on reading and reacting with each play,” he explained. “Our serving can be a great weapon, but definitely needs some consistency”
Although being good on the floor is one focus, another and more important one for Labrie is how strong the team is in their leadership and citizenship.
“The girls are great role models and excellent student-athletes. I am proud to be associated with these young ladies and value the way they contribute to our school and local community,” he said.
And this season is a bit of an important milestone for Labrie as well, it marks 25 years for him on the bench and it is the love of the game that keeps him coming back.
“I have been coaching Broncs volleyball since 1992 and most my time has been with the boys. I started my coaching career in Ponoka with the senior girls and then switched to boys for many years,” he stated.
“In 2015, I returned to the girls team and have been with them since. I love the game of volleyball, but still do not understand the crazy momentum swings that this sport creates.”
Kill shots – The junior varsity girls volleyball squad, coached by Liane Amdam and Tammy Emes, also hosted Camrose Sept. 19 and fell 21-25, 25-21, 25-23 and 25-23. Meanwhile, the junior girls clubs are slated to start their season this week. Both the senior and junior varsity Broncs are in Wetaskiwin tomorrow (Sept. 28).