BONNYVILLE – It was a challenge that École Notre Dame’s senior girls' volleyball team had prepared for since the start of the season – winning a provincial championship title.
On Nov. 26, Notre Dame’s senior girls’ volleyball team made history by earning their high school’s first ASAA (Alberta Schools Athletic Association) provincial volleyball title.
The victory also marked the first provincial title won by any girls' high school volleyball team in the Town of Bonnyville.
“This is a huge deal for our volleyball community,” said Scott Cameron, the Wildcats’ head coach.
The last time a Bonnyville high school brought home a provincial gold medal for volleyball was in 1994 by Bonnyville Centralized High School’s boys' team.
This season, the Wildcats’ senior girls won 50 of 51 games.
“It all started off with a group of girls when we were young and just learning how to play,” team captain Halle Blocha told Lakeland This Week.
“From the beginning of the season, our main goal was just focus on one game at a time, and we definitely did our job in provincials going undefeated. Although being down in the first set of the [provincial] semi-finals, it was definitely a realization that this is our moment, and we are going to have to use it.”
The senior team also won gold in all six tournaments they competed in this season.
“We worked for it – our 50-1 record – but again it all came down to playing game by game, just focusing, and not getting too caught up in the moment,” she said.
Blocha attributes the team’s success at provincials and throughout the season to the dedication of her teammates and a volleyball drill called ‘Box.’
The Wildcats’ team this year was unique in the fact that the 12-person roster was made up of all Grade 12 students, which will mark a significant change for the senior team coming up next year.
“Putting in the extra hours have always counted – it doesn't go unnoticed,” said Blocha, offering advice for the girls who will don the Wildcats’ senior jerseys next year.
“The Wildcats’ coming up in the years to come, I hope that they strive for big things and that they are always hungry for more and just want the best for their teammates and themselves,” she said.
Now that high school volleyball has wrapped up, the Notre Dame girls will be continuing to play the sport they love in club volleyball. Blocha noted that several of the Wildcats’ senior girls team intend to compete at the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference (ACAC) level next year in post-secondary.
“This group of girls have definitely made an impact on not [only] each other's lives, but the younger generation,” said Blocha. “It's definitely an honour to be part of this team.”
Other local teams
The Notre Dame senior boys' team also competed at 2A provincials but were unsuccessful at taking home hardware.
Competing at the 1A Provincial Volleyball Championships was École Plamondon Hawks’ boys and girls' teams. The boys' team earned gold, while the girls' team came up short in the bronze medal match.