© Katie Brickman
Austin Graas of the Caronport Cougars jumps up for a spike kill shot as Dalton Wolfe of the Central Cyclones prepares to block the shot in senior boys volleyball action last year at Central Collegiate. The Cougars and the Cyclones will kick off the new season this evening in Caronport. Times-Herald photo by Katie Brickman
Senior boys volleyball season kicks off tonight
Every fall, school teams turn a new leaf over as seniors graduate and other athletes step up into expanded roles.
Each of the senior boys volleyball teams from Peacock, Central, Vanier, Caronport and Avonlea have lost some players, but all feel confident in a new season that begins this evening.
Central will visit Caronport and Vanier will kick off their season at Peacock at 6:15 p.m., while Avonlea has a bye.
“Central looks to be the team to beat again. Peacock is going to be strong and (with) Vanier, I am not sure what to expect and then Avonlea,” stated Shane Sowden, the coach for Caronport. “I think we are definitely in the mix and I don’t think you can count us out. I am confident that if we work hard and we click by the end of the year, anything can happen.”
Cougars look for consistency
The Cougars have seven veterans coming back this year, but did lose two starting middles and their setter from last year.
“Those were pretty key spots to lose, but I think we might be more well-rounded this year,” said Sowden. “I think it might take us a little longer to gel and get comfortable with each other, but I think by the end, we will be OK.”
Caronport will mostly be Grade 11s and 12s, but they do have some Grade 10s in the mix.
“We should be able to compete and (like) every season, our goal is to be playing our best volleyball in November,” said Sowden.
The Cougars aren’t overly tall, but they do have three returning outside hitters. They are trying out a new liberio and a new setter, areas that will allow the players and team to grow throughout the season.
“Once we get that (comfort), I think we will take off, but it will take a few weeks before we get there,” Sowden explained.
Like every team in the Moose Jaw High School League, the Cougars are hoping to earn a spot in the city final in November.
“We want to make it to provincials as our first goal and making it to the city final will be our second goal,” he said.
Veteran Vanier squad ready to make their mark
After losing to Peacock in the quarter-finals last year, the Vanier Vikings are back with a veteran squad looking to get their chance at a city final title.
The Vikings will have five Grade 12s and seven Grade 11s on the court this season, one of the older teams in the league.
“It is really nice to have that leadership and continuity this year,” stated Levi Broda, head coach of Vanier. “Hopefully the trials that we went through last year will pay off.”
The Vikings will not be an overly tall team with the majority of their players around the 6’0 range, but they pride themselves on being scrappy.
“We are definitely going to be a defensive team. We are going to have to battle for every ball and nothing can hit the ground. We are going to rely on fundamentals and that’s the way we are going to win games — by being scrappy and doing the little things right,” explained Broda.
Adam Dowling and Jeff Anuik, two former University of Regina players will be helping Broda out this season.
“Our goal is a city final berth and looking forward to regionals and provincials,” said Broda. “It is definitely our goal to advance to provincials this year.”
Peacock continues positive progress
The Peacock Toilers faced off against a very skilled Central Cyclones team last year in the city final and were defeated. That allowed the six returning players to get a taste of how close they were and they are hungry to get back to that spot.
“I think we are looking to be competitive this year, whereas last year, was a little tough in the final,” said Paul Thoroughgood, Peacock coach. “I think we are continuing that progression that we have been looking towards for the last two years.”
The Toilers have two tall players, but both are Grade 10 rookies, but the core is strong and experienced.
“We have height, but inexperience,” said Thoroughgood. “There are lots of kids that have played club, so executing our skills and controlling the ball will be important.”
Another area of work the Toilers are focused on this year to make themselves better is communication on the court.
“We have a number of guys that are quiet on this team and we are really trying to build that communication. The stronger teams communicate so well and move so well,” stated Thoroughgood.
The Toilers will try and capture their first title since 2003.
Defending champs team to beat
For the past fours years, the Central Cyclones have been city champions. They hope they can make it five in a row as they continue to have a strong core.
They lost five to graduation, but have six coming back to defend their title.
“Still a good core and most of those six were starters on our team last year,” said Cyclones coach, Shaune Gray. “We lost five strong players, but the Grade 12s this year got stronger over the summer. Some played in provincials and four were practicing with the U of R.”
Much like last year, the Cyclones strength is they have powerful hitters that can do a lot of damage.
“We’ve lost a couple spots, but the guys we have coming in are ready to go and they know what to do,” he said. “They are not as tall as what we had, but they still have the skill.”
The Cyclones hope to repeat as champs, but have their sights set on a provincial victory.
“This year, we always want to be at the city final. Provincials are going to be a tough one to get to because it is in the south this year,” he stated. “Only two teams qualify, as Weyburn gets the automatic bye.”
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