Okotoks rivals to battle for league crown
Volleyball: Foothills looks to retain title for fourth straight year
By: Bruce Campbell
| Posted: Wednesday, Oct 02, 2013 10:58 am
The Foothills Falcons’ dynasty in boys volleyball may be threatened by the Knights to the north.
The Falcons, who have won the past three Foothills Athletic Council (FAC) Senior boys volleyball championships, are still the team to beat but the Holy Trinity Academy (HTA) Knights have something brewing.
“We have a pretty strong team this year,” said Knights volleyball director Tony Canevaro.
“We are really going to put a run on the Comp this year for the league championship, but they are the team to beat in my opinion. It’s going to be fun and the playoffs are going to be fun for sure.”
The Falcons got off to a strong start in their opening match of the FAC season, downing the Oilfields Drillers in three straight sets Sept. 25 in Okotoks.
“We are going to be alright,” Falcons head coach Corey Cowper said. “Last spring, I thought it was going to be a total rebuild, but the way we play together, there is a lot of chemistry and their ball control is very good for high school. Those two things can take you a long way in high school volleyball.”
Controlling the ball for the Falcons is veteran setter Brett Carter, who made Team Alberta last summer.
“He will lead this team by example and keep the guys focused,” Cowper said. “He’s a fantastic setter — one of the best in Alberta.”
Carter will be setting the table for Grade 10 power Liam Hall.
“He is very technically sound and nothing seems to faze him,” Cowper said of Hall.
Also supplying some hitting prowess for the Falcons is right side Cole Selmer.
Noah Wilkie, who missed virtually the entire season last year with an injured foot, is back providing defence and power in the middle.
“He hasn’t missed a beat for us and he is looking really strong for us in the middle,” Cowper said.
High River’s Austin Latta will don the different coloured jersey and play libero for the Falcons. He will also play back-up setter.
Three years ago the Holy Trinity Academy Knights’ volleyball future looked bleak when they didn’t have a JV team. Since that time, the school has developed a program and is ready to battle for an FAC title — their last being the back-to-back championship years of 2008 and 2009.
After the rebuild, the Knights are shining once again on the court.
“You could make a compelling case that we have four players that are in the top 30 or 40 players (in Alberta) this year,” Canevaro said.
Those players include power Micah Brown, who contemplated not going to HTA three years ago when the school didn’t have a JV team.
“Micah is a very good power, but he is also a very good libero,” Canevaro said.
“He played some libero for the U-17 Canucks team that competed at the U.S. nationals.”
The other members of the top four are power Brendan Dranchuk, power-right side Cole Canevaro and setter Zane Dixon.
“Our strength is our experience,” Canevaro said. “We also have Jake Elias at power who has played in club ball for four years now.
“We also have two very tall middles in Nick Peloso and Jesse VanBlokland, who are both over six-four.”
They also have a Raider on their team. Kade McCormick made the trek from High River to play for the Knights.
“He went to the Minto Cup last year with the (Junior A lacrosse) Raiders,” Canevaro said. “He is just a good all around athlete.”
The Oilfields Drillers aren’t going to dwell on their opening match loss to the Falcons last week. They are aiming for a strong finish in FAC play and then zones, which Oilfields will host in Black Diamond in November.
“It is tough to play the bigger schools like Foothills but we see it as a challenge,” said Drillers coach Leigh Bretzlaff. “We want to be pushed and we want to play the best.”
Returning for the Drillers are powers Lee Ouellette, Orrie Malmberg and Lincoln Boehmer, along with setter Brady Stuart.
“Our JV team was successful last year and combined with our four returning players we are hoping to peak at the right time,” Bretzlaff said. “This is all about building and to improve on our strengths.”
He said his six starters are solid. They include the four returning players and Grade 11 middle Russell Grusing, who has played middle.
Playing off-side is Lane Ouellette.
“We have kids who want to compete and want to get better,” Bretzlaff said. “We are trying to build a program here.”
Other key Drillers include Rydan Powell at libero and Cole McChesney at power. Kody Briggs is helping at the middle and Tom Blower will also see action on the off-side.
“Our long term goal is to win zones — one of the reasons we decided to host zones is because we think we can win it,” Bretzlaff said.
The Drillers went to the semifinal of their tournament last week.
The Strathcona-Tweedsmuir Spartans have proved good things do come in small packages.
The Spartans, a 2A school, made it to the FAC final last year before being knocked off by the bigger Foothills Composite Falcons.
Despite the loss of captain Taylor Chase and other key players, the Spartans are replacing not rebuilding as their program has players developing from the junior level, said coach Dale Roth.
They will be relying on defence to complement their offensive attack.
“I am building up a defensive line almost like a football thing,” Roth said. “I have numerous players who are great defensively.”
Roth said Jacob Janish will be the “kingpin” in the back row as a libero. Also digging out spikes like miners digging out a nugget in the Klondike are Andy Rusnac and Daniel Livergant.
The front row consists of Myles Chase, a lefty who can pound the ball and Harrison Hart.
“They will be our kingpins up front,” Roth said.
When the six-foot-four Chase isn’t pounding the ball, he is the Spartans main setter.
“As a six-foot plus lefty who can set, he makes a strong set on the right side,” Roth said.
Their other setter is Cole Plater.
For more information and the schedule go to www.foothillsathletics.ca