After beating Camrose 3-2 in their last regular game of the season, the Ponoka Secondary Campus senior boys’ volleyball team is sitting second in the league and gearing up for zones this weekend.
The boys lost their first set 25-20, won the second 25-16, lost the third 26-24, won the fourth 27-25 and won the fifth 15-13.
Coach Ron Labrie says the team has always had to play its hardest and change up their own game when playing Camrose. “We, for whatever reason, seem to struggle against Camrose’s style of ball.”
He says their plays are arbitrary and their defense is “scrappy.”
“It was fun, it was stressful. It seemed like you couldn’t do anything at times. They’re so unpredictable,” explained Davis Labrie, setter.
Ponoka was down 10 points in the fourth game, with 19-9 the lowest point for them. To compete against Camrose the team had to change up its defense tactics. The blocks were moved up in front and the wingers were pulled up into the court. “Usually we play them a bit flatter,” said Ron.
“I called a time out and said it’s up to you to win, and we did. They managed to rally back,” he added.
The boys ended up with the same season results as Camrose but sit one spot behind them because Camrose had one more set; meaning they’ll host zones.
“We plan on winning it and we expect to. We’re the team to beat, I think. It’s ours to lose,” said Davis.
Davis’ teammate Austyn Nagribianko says this year the boys have mixed emotions heading into zones after last year, where they came in second after losing to Wetaskiwin.
Even as one of the top teams the boys agree there’s still a lot of stiff competition they’re looking at. Especially with Camrose and Lacombe, the boys went to five sets with each team. “There’s no guarantee on the (November) 23,” said Davis.
This year, due to construction at the Secondary Campus, the boys never had a home game. “It’s always nice to have a gym you can call yours,” said Davis, who feels not having a home gym affected the boys’ energy levels and moral.
Always having to travel also cut the team’s fan base. “The only fans we usually have are the parents and staff instead of the student body,” said Davis.
“We’re thankful for the support of the fans who came out each time,” Nagribianko added.
For the nine new boys on the team this year, they’ve never had the chance to play a home game as senior boys volleyball players.
With only five veteran players, the new players make up a majority of the team. “We’ve got lots of guys we can rely on,” said Ron.
“They’re a key factor in our success,” Davis added.