By Greg Price
For the Vauxhall Queens girls volleyball team this year, it will be David trying to slay Goliath — at least height wise — but we very well know how skilled David was with a slingshot.
The Queens have competed in two tournaments so far which included a tournament victory in Fort Macleod before losing in the semifinals in three sets to W.R. Myers at Lethbridge College this past weekend.
“This is definitely a different-looking team than we have had in the past. We are essentially playing with one setter and five liberos out there. We are really small,” said Scott Reiling, head coach of the Vauxhall Queens girls volleyball team. “We are having to make adjustments out there against big teams and the girls are doing a good job of that. We are getting little hiccups because it’s early in the year. They are realizing there are things they can’t do if we are going to stay in a match with a good team. We can’t give free balls and we can’t miss serves.”
Reiling added the team has been concentrating on swinging at everything, because the Queens will have trouble at the net with their lack of height.
“We are not big enough to slow down teams at the net, but for ball control and defence, this is as good of a team as I’ve ever coached,” said Reiling. “They get at balls and use their hands. It can be really frustrating for teams that are playing us, especially schools that keep hitting and hitting and hitting and we keep digging, and digging and digging until they make a mistake. We don’t have to score a lot of points, we just have to not give away a lot of points.”
Making the adjustments to a new style of play, Reiling added the early going has surpassed expectations, but the overall expectation still remains the same no matter what the style of play —provincial title or bust.
The advantage the Queens have this season is they can serve as mad scientists trying to craft their game to their style throughout the season without worrying about qualifying for 2A provincials. That is because the Queens will be hosting 2A girls volleyball provincials this year.
“We will definitely be in the mix, not only in 2A, but every tournament we go in,” said Reiling. “We are definitely not being bullied by anybody. What is getting me excited about this team is that we will look so different by the end of the year when we get to provincials. It’s a different style, the girls are going to figure it out, and when they do, it’s going to be really fun to watch.”
The usual suspects are expected to make an appearance at 2A girls volleyball provincials which Vauxhall hosts, but the focus for the program will be different for the Queens overall.
“It is the first year that I’m not overly concerned with who we are playing and how we are playing in Week 1, Week 2, Week 3,” said Reiling. “At the end of the day, our seeding at zones has very little relevance. I’m not pushing to peak one or two weeks before zones. Really, we know what our end game is and we want to make sure we are healthy at provincials. If we have a couple people banged, maybe I won’t play them this weekend. If it means we get them healthy and we lose some games, the big picture it has no relevance of where we go in at provincials. It takes a little bit of the pressure off the girls, where we get to play the role of the spoiler.”
In past years, the Queens played the role of the hunted instead of the hunter as the squad regularly came in as top seed in the south zone.
“You are worried about the other team having their game of the year and knocking you off. But this year, we get to play that role where we get to end other people’s seasons, but no one gets to end ours (by hosting provincials),” said Reiling. “The south zone gets three teams and I think it’s going to be a dog fight. We haven’t lost to a 2A team yet this year, but we also haven’t destroyed a 2A team yet this year, either, and we’ve played a lot of them. Right now, nobody is ahead of anybody very far, but no one is really behind either.”
Queens are in Eagle Butte this weekend.
“This is a fun group where everyone is sort of in the same area. We don’t have a lot of height, but they all have ball control and work really hard on the court,” said Reiling. “The practices are really competitive. We are going to do better than anyone thought we would with our height.”