Rustlers battle best

By Jamie Harkins

April 13, 2017 12:00 AM

HITTING THEIR PEAK The Lloydminster Rustlers U17 volleyball club, with back row from left, coach William Gow, Emma Stephens, Sydnie Wright, Sarah Osika, Kiana Walker, Devry Elliott, Tressa Weaver, Tyrell Muskego; front row, Ally Robinson, Emily Armstrong, Renzelle Horner, manager Diane Gow; missing, Soleil Gow, Amanda Curnew and LiseAnne Connolly, finished in fourth place at the Conexus Provincial Volleyball Championships in Saskatoon. SUBMITTED PHOTO

The Lloydminster Rustlers under-17 volleyball club’s drive toward a provincial medal ended just short of its target.
The Rustlers fell 25-19, 22-25, 15-10 to the Saskatoon HVC Howlers in the bronze medal game of the 2017 17U Women’s Conexus Provincial Volleyball Championships at the Saskatoon Kinsmen/Henk Ruys Soccer Centre on Sunday. The Howlers jumped ahead early in the third set and carried an 8-4 lead into the turn before holding on for the five point win.
“It was very back and forth,” said Rustlers manager Diane Gow. “They didn’t blow us out of the water, which we were very happy about. The girls played well all weekend and we’re very happy with the results. Of course, we’re disappointed in not medalling because that’s always the goal.”
The Rustlers squad of Emma Stephens, Sarah Osika, Tyrell Muskego, Renzelle Horner, Sydnie Wright, Amanda Curnew, LiseAnne Connolly, Soleil Gow, Devry Elliott, Tressa Weaver, Kiana Walker, Ally Robinson and Emily Armstrong entered the provincial finals as the sixth seed in Division 1 play. The club earned the berth by finishing fourth in Tier 2 at the 17/18U Sask Cup No. 1 on Feb. 5, fourth in Tier 1 at Sask Cup No. 2 about three weeks later and finally fifth in Tier 1 at Sask Cup No. 3 on March 26.
Gow said the team accomplished this feat despite a height disadvantage against most of their competition and the fact the Rustlers draw players from a much smaller base compared to the larger centres of Saskatoon and Regina. She said to combat this, Rustlers coach William Gow instituted a system of play focused on defence such as aggressive work at the net including blocking and hitting off their opponent’s blocks as well as a strong back court.
“They ran five offensive and three defensive positions because he’s trying to develop them for higher competition,” said Gow. “He wants to develop the girls to ensure that they do well in high school. They think about playing in college and university and beyond.”
The Rustlers started the provincial championships with wins against the Oxbow Black Knights and Muenster VC before dropping a two-set decision to the Saskatoon Smash in their final round-robin game. The team then notched a 26-24, 25-16 win versus the Saskatoon JCVC Chaos and a 25-17, 25-20 loss to the Prince Albert Optimist Toppers En Fuego in their first two playoff games, which placed them in the bronze medal final.
“Entering provincials we were seeded sixth and we ended up fourth, so we moved up two spots,” said Gow. “We were very happy with the results. Our girls exceeded our expectations for sure this year.”

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