Inexperience not an issue for Raiders

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November 5, 2015 8:15 AM

With four bronze medal finishes and one tournament victory in their first six tournaments this season, the Holy Rosary Raiders senior girl’s volleyball team is playing above their experience level. With only two Grade 12 students on the roster, the Raiders have been relying heavily on their depth to get through tournaments each and every weekend, rotating players into starting roles each game.

It has allowed the young Raiders each a chance to get lots of playing time in for their Grade 11 and 10 players, and with five medals to show for their efforts already this season, it clearly is working at Holy Rosary.

“We have had a lot of girls travelling and being all over the place so our lineup has been different almost every weekend,” said head coach Josh Lyons. “We have been able to do quite well with whoever has been playing wherever.”

The Raiders earned a bronze medal at their own tournament, defeating J.R. Robson in the third place game. While Holy Rosary may lack experience in the high school volleyball scene, talent is something they don’t lack at all, and for Lyons, that has been the true strength of the team and will be something the Raiders will look to grow as the season progresses and they head towards zone playoffs.

“It’s a very nice thing to have with the team,” said Lyons. “Being able to trust girls in just about any position, being able to roll through three different girls at setter, it’s been really good. It bods well not only for this year, but for the future.”

With the Northeastern zone hosting provincials this year, which will take place in Bonnyville, two teams from this region will make it to the provincial tournament. Lyons has set the expectation at winning zones and making the provincial tournament, but he also knows that next season will see a more powerful Raiders team on the court.

Last season, Holy Rosary saw what it took to be at the provincial level of volleyball, having played against teams in the top five in the province. The competition at the 3A level in Alberta is strong, and for the Raiders, just earning a place in provincials isn’t good enough. They want to be in the hunt for a medal as well.

“I don’t just want to go there to be there,” said Lyons. “It’s a great experience all around, but I want to win some games and the girls want to win some games. The competitive nature comes out.”

With the majority of their roster staying next season, the Raiders are far away from any kind of rebuild for their senior girl’s team. With work being done with their Grade 8 and 9 players early on, by the time they reach the high school level, they are well on their way to becoming good high school volleyball players. It’s why Holy Rosary has won so many times already this season and why their future for the next two to three years looks bright.

“This year, having only two grade 12s, is that a disadvantage? Sure it is, but at the same time we are still competitive,” said Lyons. “There is a little baptism by fire, but if you want to compete at the high levels you have to play higher times. It sometimes means you are going to get your butt kicked and you may not be as prepared as you want to be. I have no qualms or hesitations about getting into bigger tournaments with primarily grade 10s and 11s.”

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