It was a reachable goal the SIAST Palliser Panthers women’s volleyball team set for themselves, they thought. Instead, their season finished on a somewhat “disappointing” note after not finishing in the top four at the Western Canadian Championship in Olds, Alta. earlier this month.
“They didn’t have a very good weekend,” said coach Lewie Bell. “I thought we played the worst we played all year on Friday.”
The Panthers finished fourth in their pool with round robin losses to Prairie Bible Institute (25-19, 25-15) and Olds College (23-25, 27-25, 15-12) on Friday.
On Saturday, the team faced the Canadian Mennonite University, who won the tournament last year and lost 25-21 and 25-16.
“That was the last game in our in our round robin. We actually did play better against them,” said Bell. “I was happy with that, but that put us as the fourth place team in our pool.”
Since they finished fourth in their pool, they had to face a top-ranked team from another pool — the Ambrose Lions. A win would have put them into the quarter-finals, but they were unable to come up with a win to continue playing, losing straight sets, 25-16 and 25-23.
“We played them close,” he said. “I don’t know what it was. We had a lot of rest and a good lunch, but we just came out really flat. We couldn’t pass the ball and our setter was running around.”
Kelsey finished third and Bethany College won the silver and the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference (ACAC) Olds College team won the tournament.
“We’ve had a lot of ups and downs this year. It was disappointing on Friday, but I was happy with the way they played and competed,” explained Bell. “It was good that we were able to play well in our last game together.”
Next year will be a rebuilding season with only getting one girl back on the team. However, Bell won’t be with the Panthers next season to take on that challenge as he moves into a different role.
“I want to turn this team over to someone new and someone that has the drive and desire,” he stated.
Bell will be moving from the Panthers to focus on PAC club volleyball. After coaching for 29 years, he feels a change is needed.
“I want to work on increasing the level of our teams here, work on some fundraising things and more of an administrative role,” he said of his role with PAC.
The Panthers and Bell are looking to bring in someone younger and an experienced volleyball player to coach next season.
“We need a young, female coach that has lots of energy and we want to turn it over to a younger person that wants to build the program and get it going within the next five to 10 years where we can compete with the ACAC teams,” he said.