It’s not easy being no. 1, but the Foothills Falcons wore the distinction well.
The top-seeded Falcons won the Foothills Athletic Council Senior girls volleyball banner by sweeping the Strathcona-Tweedsmuir Spartans 3-0 (25-14, 25-21, 25-17) on Nov. 8.
“It is always tough coming in as no. 1 — we had everything to lose,” said Falcons head coach Joanne Schoneck of the final held at the Crescent Point Regional Field House. “This match was all about us remaining no. 1 — all the pressure was on us, 100 per cent, and that’s what makes these kind of games tough.”
Although Foothills Comp has an enrolment of more than 1,100 and STS less than 300 high school students, the Spartans are a collective Mighty Mouse contending in the FAC for years.
The Falcons made sure the Spartans didn’t get any early momentum by winning the opening set by a convincing 11-game margin.
“That first game is huge, it’s all about confidence,” Schoneck said. “But not only that, we were able to maintain it. That’s something we have been working on all year.”
Falcon Jazmyn Kellogg, a Grade 11 Sr. varsity rookie, helped provide some of that momentum by providing a spark to the line-up.
“We knew STS was a strong team coming in — they have a lot of club players who are really good,” Kellogg said. “It was hard work and dedication, our main goal was to play as a team.”
Kellogg felt she had one of her stronger games of the year.
“I always want to be energetic, just bring the team up,” she said. “Support them any way I can and swing when I get it.”
The Falcons were able to ace the championship when Emileigh Inglis — who could serve through a sheet of Kryptonite — launched a missile to ice the 25-17 victory in the final game.
Spartans setter Tessa McNaughton said while STS was out to win, the players strived to keep a positive attitude in what they hope is an upcoming run to provincials. “Getting to the finals was an accomplishment in itself,” McNaughton said. “Foothills has a lot of good players, big hitters and we are a little bit on the short-side. They played really well.”
She said the loss will make them better for provincial playdowns.
“We played consistently,” McNaughton said. “We played the Comp earlier in the year and we knew they were very good.
“We also had just played a hard semifinal against HTA two nights before.”
Falcons power Emily Gushulak, said it was nice for Foothills to regain the banner after the Holy Trinity Academy Knights won it last year.
“This is a big deal, I think as a team we have really progressed,” Gushulak said. “We had our energy up, we were positive… We have had moments this year where our individual talents came out but this game we were really blending well as a team and helping each other out.”
The Falcons will now focus on zones Nov. 17-18 at Chestermere.
Winning the FAC banner will provide some good old Mo for the Falcons.
“Every win you get is momentum and confidence going into zones,” Schoneck said.
“At this time of the year, it is just about learning how to play as a team, the skills stuff is done in September and October.”
Foothills will face the Holy Trinity Academy Knights and Chestermere Lakers at the 4A South Central zones. The Falcons have downed HTA in all three matches this year. Foothills has not yet met the Lakers.
The Spartans host the SC regionals on Nov. 11. If they finish in the top five, they will advance to the 2A zones are at St. Joseph’s Collegiate in Brooks, Nov. 17-18.