Much like the Academy Awards, it’s an honour just to be nominated in making provincials as the Queens will have a senior class that have medaled in their last two trips.
“People say provincials are the be-all, end-all, but for me getting that zone banner is important. When you get to a tournament like this, the teams are just at a different level compared to the zone. People would say no kidding, but from a play perspective all these teams know what you have to work on to be good,” said Scott Reiling, head coach of the Vauxhall Queens girls volleyball team. “But you can’t say that about zones. There’s always something you can dissect. The difference at zones may be seven or eight points so you can have an off game and miss a couple of serves, but when you get to provincials the difference is probably two or three points and the teams you are going to face are going to serve tough and they limit those unforced errors so you can’t rely on those. They are not going to give you 17, 17 or 18 points, you are going to have to earn 16, 17 or 18 points.”
As the nature of the game changes at provincials so does even the reasoning behind time-outs where strategy can change on a dime according to Reiling.
“Typically with volleyball I just say control our side of the court and we are going to be fine, you don’t have to worry about what they are doing. When we get to provincials that gets thrown out the window where I’m typically using my time-outs not necessarily to settle my girls down or stop a momentum swing, but instead to make an adjustment,” said Reiling. “They could be throwing all their blocks cross court so we have to mix it up and throw it down the line and that’ll open up the cross court later. Little things like that where we have to be more deceptive with our play. It’s not just about going out there and bullying teams because these teams at provincials are used to bullying teams, too.”
Celebrating the 50th anniversary of Alberta Schools Athletic Association provincials, the tournament will feature all 1A, 2A, 3A and 4A levels where the team count will be creeping into the triple digits at Saville Centre in Edmonton. The Queens attended an invite-only tournament in Didsbury of powerhouse 2A teams and there will be a lot of familiar faces including Strathcona Tweedsmuir and Spirit River who along with the Queens have brought home a provincial medal each time in the last three provincials.
“Out of the 12 teams we saw in Didsbury I think six or seven of them will be there at provincials,” said Reiling. “The who’s who are there. The teams that battled us hard in Didsbury are all there. Yes, we won that tournament, but it wasn’t 25-12, 25-13-type games. We will see who worked harder and closed the gap or did we increase some of that room.”
With a 62-1 match record and double-digit tournament wins for the Queens, that all gets thrown out the window come provincials according to Reiling as paper champions do not necessarily make provincial champions.
“We were the perfect example of that last year. We were not the best team on paper at provincials, absolutely not and we came home with the banner. We caught an excellent team that would beat us nine out of 10 times and we caught them that one time at provincials,” said Reiling. “You got to get there and you got to get hot at the right time. It’s a fun tournament because you have to play hard every tournament. If you are going to be flat at the tournament be flat at the beginning, not the end. We did that last year where we lost our very first match and then after that we played loose and owned every match after that.”
You can follow the Queens results on the Alberta Schools Athletic Association website at http://www.asaa.ca.