With two out of three teams making the top three teams, Ponoka’s volleyball girls dominated the annual Turkey Burner tournament, hosted each year by St. Augustine School.
The St. Augustine senior girls team came back from a fourth place win last year to take the championship.
Although they were tired by the playoffs, coach Darren Josephison says they “dug in” to beat their biggest rival in the league, the Caroline Cougars.
“It wasn’t hard for the girls to get excited for the playoffs,” said Josephison.
As one of the strongest teams in the league, with a competitive volleyball program, Josephison says this year the girls expected to place high. “The competition wasn’t as difficult as last year when we placed fourth.”
The Turkey Burner was the first tournament this year where the senior girls weren’t cut in the semifinals. Each time they’d play the tournament undefeated until the semifinals, said Josephison. “It was nice to finish it off.”
While the JV girls’ team landed a consolation place, Josephison says they too represented the school positively.
With skilled girls that give the older teams competitive matches he feels the senior team has a strong future. “The other teams find it hard to believe they’re a JV team.”
“Both teams are just good ambassadors for the school,” he added.
JV coach Kara Schmidt felt her team had a good run in the tournament. “I think we’re doing wonderful. We’re playing to the levels of the higher teams.”
This isn’t the JV girl’s first senior tournament and they often practice with the senior team. “I think we’re just used to having to play up,” said Schmidt.
Both team captains, Megan Jones and Chrischelle Nibungco, agreed the team’s ability to communicate and their hard work played a big part of their games. “We’re playing our heart out,” said Jones.
“We’re following and calling the ball,” Nibungco added.
The Ponoka Secondary Campus JV girls finished third in the tournament against the St. Dominic Huskies of Rocky Mountain House.
For the JV team, the competition was expected.
“There’s some good competition, especially because we’re a JV team,” said Danielle Yaremchuk, coach.
She felt the girls would need good attacks in offense and defense to compete with the older teams. “I think we have the skill, it’s just putting it together,” said Hailey Bozer, team captain.
“It’s an eye opener, getting to play harder teams,” she added.
The Secondary Campus gymnasium has been under renovations since the summer and the JV team has been practicing at the former Diamond Willow Middle School, which is also under construction.
“It’s freezing cold, the conditions just aren’t ideal,” said Yaremchuk. “I think it has definitely hurt our team morale not having a home place to play in.”
“It just sucks because it doesn’t really give us that home feeling,” Bozer added.