The Caronport Cougars are striving for improvement this weekend.
© Times-Herald photo by Matthew Gourlie
Caronport's Joey Guretzki, right, hits at the net against an Oxbow Black Knights blocker.
It’s safe to say they’re on the right path after winning three straight sets to conclude the opening day at the Moose Jaw Senior Boys Volleyball Tournament at Peacock.
The Cougars finished with a 2-2 record in their preliminary pool which was good for a third-place finish. That doesn’t fully tell the story as the Cougars split with Mossbank 26-24, 25-27 and then lost to Oxbow 25-9, but rallied to beat them 25-22 to create a three-way tie in their pool.
The quick turnaround against the perennial provincial power from Oxbow was a big building block for the Cougars.
“That was the worst we’ve played in weeks. Oxbow is a really good team, give them credit, but nine points? That’s not good,” said Caronport coach Shane Sowden. “They’ve been our rivals in 4A the last few years and they pumped us pretty good, but it’s nice to see us rebound.”
The Cougars lost to Oxbow in the 4A provincial final two years ago and lost to them in the provincial semis last year.
They will have to continue to progress to get to that point this year, but Sowden is happy with how his team is coming together.
“There were a lot of positives,” said Sowden. “We have a healthy lineup for the first time in six weeks and we’re still learning. We want to peak in four weeks and the nice thing is that we’re slowly getting there.”
After the humbling loss, the Cougars raced out to a 7-0 lead against Oxbow and almost just as quickly lost the lead. Oxbow pulled even at 11-11, but Caronport didn’t fold. The teams were neck-and-neck until the Cougars took the last couple of points in a 25-22 win.
“That’s provincial volleyball. It’s a crazy two days and things like that is going to prepare us,” said Sowden. “It’s nice to see the guys be resilient. We got killed and we kept fighting.”
The Cougars welcomed back Brandon Goudy and Zach Funk who have both missed significant time with injuries.
“It’s nice having those guys back. They’re a veteran presence and have been with us for the last two years,” said Sowden. “They’re not quite there yet. It’s nice to get them back into a flow.”
The Cougars finished their day with a 25-23, 25-22 win over Vanier as they try to battle back into the playoffs from a lower pool.
Sowden said the weekend was all about learning.
“It’s about learning and getting better. So far we’ve gotten better each game. The guys are getting a lot more confident,” he said.
Central has gotten off to a strong start. They beat Lumsden 25-10, 25-14 and Yorkton Regional 25-13, 25-23 to top their pool. After the re-pool they split with Swift Current, losing 25-23 before rallying to win 25-13.
Peacock finished second in its pool with a 2-2 record. They earned a solid split with Swift Current 26-24, 19-25 and then split with Weyburn 15-25, 25-17. Peacock split with Lumsden 25-15, 17-25 in the second-place pool.
Vanier is still looking for its first win after losing 25-19, 25-13 to Estevan and 25-8, 25-9 to Winnipeg’s Garden City in their opening pool.
Estevan is the only unbeaten team as they posted impressive wins over Oxbow and Garden City.
Action continues Saturday at Peacock with the final slated for 7 p.m.