OLDS — Olds Koinonia Christian School (OKCS) junior A girls and senior boys volleyball teams are zone champions after both teams defeated Bassano in the finals.
The junior A girls brought home the first zone banner in the school’s history, according to Ken Terpstra, the school's athletic director.
Both zone championships were held the weekend of Nov. 12 and 13. The girls won the 1J zone championship and the boys won the 1A zone title.
"The girls had a very exciting zone tournament in Bassano," coach Diane Sewell wrote in an email.
She said a factor in their success was height.
“We do have several tall players that do great work at the net," she wrote.
Another strength of the team is consistency in serving.
“The improvement in serving over the course of the season was remarkable. Even in the zone tournament, I could see player's serves get stronger,” she wrote.
The team consisted of almost all Grade 9 girls except one who is in Grade 8.
“The girls have a lot of potential to be a strong team going into high school,” she wrote.
It wasn’t all smooth sailing, though.
Sewell said the Royals ended up tied for third in round robin play and faced a tough battle to get into the playoffs.
“My girls were kind of shook (up) that they faced elimination so early,” Sewell wrote.
“I simply told them that I had nothing else to say, they needed to figure out how to go out and win the upcoming elimination set.
“The girls started talking on their own about what they excelled at and what they needed to change. They then went out, won that set, and never looked back.”
They defeated Morin in the semi-final then beat Bassano in two straight sets to win the gold medal.
“Saturday was an exhausting day, both physically and emotionally, as we had to play four games and the tie-breaker set, all on Saturday,” Sewell wrote.
“The (gold medal) win was very exciting, not only because we came through the back door to win the gold medal, but also because this made school history.
“It is the first girls' volleyball banner that has ever been won at OKCS and my girls knew this ‘first’ was on the line."
Sewell is impressed with the girls’ team spirit and friendship. She said that too made a difference.
“Volleyball is a very emotional sport that really requires the players to encourage each other and stay mentally tough,” Sewell wrote.
“All of our game improved, but the determination to set up each ball for the attack opportunity was very important.
“Passing the ball to the setter was a huge focus as that starts the whole attack and offense. The girls really worked hard to improve in that area.”
Senior boys coach Ryan Miller said their zone finals went to three sets.He believes the scores were 25-20, 22-25, 15-10.
"The team has worked hard and shown significant improvement over the course of the season," he wrote in an email. "Our tournament highlights have included first place at Trochu, first place at our home tournament, and winning the South Central Zone."
They have four Grade 12s this year.