INNISFAIL – The region's senior ladies volleyball power hitters are proving to be a determined bunch.
During the first weekend of October the senior high school teams from Innisfail and Olds were at Red Deer’s St. Joseph High School for a tournament. Both teams showed they are a force to be reckoned with, despite starting the season after not playing for two years because the COVID-19 pandemic.
“All the kids were commenting that it was so nice to be back and doing some competitions and playing games,” said Innisfail head coach Bob Klatt, whose team started the season in the first week of September, and ends Nov. 5 and 6 at a tournament in Rocky Mountain House.
The Red Deer tournament saw the Innisfail ladies squaring off against many regional teams, including their arch rivals from Olds. The Innisfail ladies beat them two games to nil during round robin pool pay but Olds came back to beat Innisfail in the quarterfinals in two straight games.
Olds gains confidence
“After our redemption game against Innisfail we played against St. Joseph and beat them, and that was the end of the road for us in that tournament,” said Olds’ head coach Leanne Koosey. "It was a great tournament to attend with a lot of games and floor time for the girls. We have a great group of girls and it was nice to see them gaining some more confidence on the court and learning to really play as a team.
“It’s still early on in the season and we’re excited to see the growth and development of the team over the season,” added Koosey.
As for Innisfail, Klatt is not at all bothered by the quarterfinal exit in Red Deer. He noted his girls played 13 games in Red Deer before being bested by Olds in the quarterfinals.
“We did not get into the semifinals but we sure played a lot of games. Our girls played excellent. They were a little tired towards the end after 13 games of play. But they played really, really well," said Klatt, whose team is classified as a 2A team due to the lower enrolment of Innisfail High School.
“The final games we played were all against 3A teams. I am quite happy and very proud of our girls for performing the way they did, especially since they haven’t practiced in two years time. This is excellent.”
Innisfail tourney upcoming
And now the Innisfail high senior girls volleyball team is getting ready for its own tournament on Oct. 16, which is hoped to attract at least 10 out-of-town teams.
The tournament is extra important for the Innisfail team, not only because it is being held at home but also because this year it was decided to have a tournament-only season, not the typical regular season league format. This decision was jointly made by parents, coaching staff and players because of time constraints.
“I am a volunteer coach and wasn’t able to commit to a full league season, as well as all of our tournaments,” said Klatt.
But the Innisfail girls are still energized to be back on the court. Their tournament season started off well. The young ladies came second at the first tournament of the year last month in Bentley, losing to Eckville by a hair 15-13 in the final game.
“They are close in all their games. They are close to beating 3A teams. “We are hopeful they will do well at our tournament,” said Klatt.
His team is going into the Innisfail tournament with six Grade 12 players and three in Grade 10, and all of them are fully committed to win.
“Our grades 10s have lots of talent for the next few years and there are some really good hitters with our grade 12s,” said Klatt, adding he’s seeing great potential for his team despite not playing competitively for two years.
“From what I’ve seen from the other teams coming to our tournament we are really hopeful we can win our tournament here. It would be huge for them.”