By Dale Cory
The gymnasium should be rocking.
St. Augustine School will host its third annual Turkey Burner girls volleyball tournament Oct. 15 and 16, and when the host team takes to the court for its first game, and the opening game of the tournament, the gym will be packed with students, parents and fans cheering on the Queens.
“The girls are probably one of the favourites coming into the tournament. We’re coming off a tournament victory in Castor, and we finished second at another tournament,” insisted head coach Darren Josephison after a recent two-hour workout. “It will be a good challenge for them to play in front of their parents, which can be stressful. It will be a good experience for them to play in front of hometown fans.”
With six Grade 12 players, the Queens are certainly an experienced group. Five of the girls have also played three or four years of club volleyball together.
“We only have 10 kids so everybody gets a lot of playing time. There are no superstars here. They get along really well. It’s a close-knit team. Nobody gets too high, or too low. The only person who gets excited is their coach, who yells sometimes,” said the mild-mannered Josephison, with a somewhat embarrassing snicker. “They are really good about shaking that off. If I get mad at them, they kind of smile and keep on playing.”
Josephison is adamant there an no superstars on the St. As team, but Libero Lisa Marie Mclennan appears to fit the bill, at least in the minds of opposing coaches.
“Numerous coaches have commented how she gives her team a distinct advantage that other teams do not have,” commented Josephison after the team won the Castor tournament without losing a single set.
So, what type of player is Maclennan?
“She’s such a calming influence and a nice kid. She’s a quite leader — but on the court, she’s a hard worker and a great passer,” explains Josephison. “She leads by example. She doesn’t have to tell teammates what to do. She just does the right stuff all the time, and she’s a role model. Teammates follow her because she leads without having to talk.”
Maclennan believes, with a core group of seniors, the Queens are capable of winning a lot of games this season.
“It’s helpful on the court because you have a feel where different people are going to be at different times, because you know how they play,” says Mclennan, who, as the Queens’ Libero, acts as the defensive specialist. “Libero goes in for a back row player, and is used to improve the passing. If the opposition is hitting more to the right side or the power spot, then I go there.”
Mclennan believes the fact this team is composed of a group of friends lends itself to success on the court, pointing to the Castor victory as an example.
“I think what went really well was us staying positive and encouraging with each other. That’s one thing I really like about our team, is that we don’t fight a lot and get upset,” she explains. “If someone makes a mistake, it’s always, ‘good try,’ or, ‘good job.’ We’re all really competitive and we all want to win, so that makes us work harder.”
The Turkey Burner tournament… Twelve teams will begin competition Friday. The Queens will open the tournament against the Beiseker Bandits at 2 p.m. St. Augustine will be back on the court Friday at 5 p.m. against the Parkland Immanuel Penguins and at 9 p.m. versus the Rimbey Spartans. Saturday’s round-robin games have St. As up against Heritage Christian Hawks at 11 a.m. and Bassano Broncos at 1 p.m. The championship game is set for Saturday at 7:30 p.m.