By Greg Price
For a young Vauxhall Queens girls volleyball team squad that has looked to find its stride all season, the team may just have, as it has plenty of momentum heading into 2A zones which start today at Lethbridge College.
The last two tournaments the Queens have been in they have won, starting off with the Monster Smash in Vulcan.
“We played well there. We started to figure out how to limit our unforced errors. We went through that tournament pretty clean, we played a team (Morrin) that we had in our round-robin in the final,” said Scott Reiling, head coach of the Vauxhall Queens girls volleyball team. “We beat F.P. Walshe and Picture Butte, some of the teams that have been making us work all year.”
Reiling has seen the confidence in his players grow as the season as progressed, even if at first the team had its struggles as a young squad overall compared to its opposition.
“You see how hard they work in practice and they want to soak in the game, showing up at every practice and giving 100 per cent. Some of those things are starting to pay off,” said Reiling. “We needed the tournament in Vulcan to get over that hump, because I was feeling sorry for the girls because I wanted their hard work to pay off. We had six straight tournaments where we got third place where we would lose that semifinal.”
The last tournament for the Queens before zones was at St. Joseph’s in Brooks, where the Queens were victorious again with the tournament title.
“Now we got that itch. They are seeing why it is important to work hard all year,” said Reiling. “This is as much a mental game as it is a physical game. It has taken awhile, but they are learning that they are in control of their game. Errors are going to happen, but what are you going to do after your error? We focus just as much on the mental where we don’t panic, digging ourselves graves on the court and burying each other.”
The Queens will be looking to continue their momentum starting today in 2A south zone competition at Lethbridge College, with the first match of round-robin play starting at 5:30 p.m.
However the Queens fare at zones which Reiling referred to as ‘crazy deep’ this year, the Vauxhall squad has already made huge strides in its maturation process.
Every team sometimes gets caught up in the expectations of the success of seasons past and the Queens have had plenty of that in recent seasons with zone championships and provincial appearances or wins.
“We have had a fair number of years where I’ve felt that when we go to zones, if we don’t win zones, the year was a failure. And if I was feeling that, I know the girls were feeling that,” said Reiling. “But this year, I don’t feel that. With the youth that we have, they are all going to get their chance to go to provincials. For Grade 12s, of course they want to go there, being there the last two years, but they have been there and that’s not going to dictate their career either. I’m hoping that pressure and tightness that can go with other teams being the top dogs, that we are just going to go out and play.”
Many girls volleyball programs would beg for the results of the 2016 Queens with six bronze-medal finishes at tournaments to go with two gold-medal finishes.
“That is pretty consistent, solid volleyball. It’s not like we are first one week and 11th the next. There are a lot of schools in our zone that never even won a tournament,” said Reiling. “We have been in that mix all year. We know our strengths in terms of passing and serving. Let’s just go play.”