Veteran team ready for Western Canada Championship
© Submitted photo
The SIAST Palliser Panthers men's volleyball team won the provincial title over the weekend in Prince Albert. The members include, back row (L-R) Chris Knoop, Brendan Roddy-Smith, Luke Churko, Mark Bevan, Brody Wasmann, Brodie Flis, Jaredd Jalbert and Ryan Brazeal. Middle row: Kirby Dobson, Colter Heron, Andre Gerard and front row Kaylon Weisbrod and Shane Cole. Submitted photo
It was the kind of season where not much could go wrong for the SIAST Palliser Panthers. With the majority of their team still together from last year, the Panthers men’s volleyball team finished first in the regular season standings and capped off the season with a provincial win over the weekend.
“We have a lot of people back from last year, which was nice since we didn’t have to start at the very basic stuff,” said Panthers coach Chris Knoop. “It was nice to pick up where we left off from last year.”
The Panthers finished with season with a 9-1 record, they only loss to the second placed Grand Plaines Sundogs.
“They were a really good team and we almost lost to them here at home,” he said.
In their opening playoff game in Prince Albert over the weekend, the Panthers “handedly” beat SIAST Kelsey 3-0. They then faced the SIAST Woodland Wild in their home gym and won 3-1.
“It was a little loud in their home gym because they had those thunder sticks,” stated Knoop. “We lost the second set, but then rebounded back from that and took them.”
In the other semifinal game, Millar Edge upset the Sundogs to advance to the final to face the Panthers. The Sundogs’ best player went down the third set, allowing Millar to come back after being down two sets.
The Panthers and Edge battled throughout the gold medal match. SIAST won the first set, dropped the second set and “looked very bad” in the third set. They made a few personnel changes in the fourth set and won the final set as well.
“The season, for us, was good. I don’t want to say it wasn’t very challenging because that’s not it, but we took care of business.”
Heading into the season with a veteran core, the Panthers knew they were the team to beat in the league and proved that through a great season.
“We knew we were probably the best team in the league,” he stated. “Whenever we played, we played up to our potential for the most part. We didn’t falter this season.”
The team set a goal of winning provincials at the beginning of the season and is happy with the success they have had throughout the year.
“I think it is nice to finish off the regular season as the champions, but it really doesn’t mean a lot if you don’t win provincials too. It was nice for us to do that,” he said.
The Panthers season isn’t finished though, as the team will travel to Olds, Alta. next weekend to compete at the Western Canada Championships.
“It seems like we are almost peaking at the right time, so we are hoping to bring that into next weekend,” said Knoop. “I think we have a good chance at winning. We are ranked second going into the weekend. There is going to be good competition, for sure.”