New volleyball season underway

A joint-practice session between the Carpenter High School girls volleyball team and their counterparts from La Loche was held in Meadow Lake last week. Here, La Loche coach Greg Hatch demonstrates some important footwork while player Aalayah Marion and assistant coach Rayona McKenzie look on.

A joint-practice session between the Carpenter High School girls volleyball team and their counterparts from La Loche was held in Meadow Lake last week. Here, La Loche coach Greg Hatch demonstrates some important footwork while player Aalayah Marion and assistant coach Rayona McKenzie look on.

by Phil Ambroziak

There’s strength in numbers.

With the Saskatchewan High Schools Athletic Association’s 2015 volleyball season set to begin this week, the Carpenter High School Spartans 5A girls team joined forced with their 4A counterparts from La Loche recently for a two-day practice outing held in Meadow Lake.

“It was a training session of sorts, but also a team bonding sort of thing,” explained Todd Handspiker, who coaches the CHS girls squad alongside Laura Lockwood. “It’s great for team spirit and morale, and serves as a way for both teams to learn from each other. It allows them to benefit from each other’s strengths and to learn new things they can bring to the court when it’s time to compete.”

The practice sessions took place Friday afternoon and evening, as well as Saturday morning at the CHS gymnasium. It was a first for both teams, but something long-time La Loche coach Greg Hatch believes the girls truly appreciated.

“Laura (Lockwood) and I have been friends since her teaching days in La Loche, so we thought it would be nice to get in some pre-season scrimmages as a way of having the teams come together and get in some important practice time,” Hatch noted. “I’m pretty impressed with what I’ve seen so far.”

He went on to say the two schools have always been friendly.

“Meadow Lake has always supported our volleyball program,” Hatch said. “But, this is about more than just volleyball. This is about building good citizens.”

Handspiker agreed.

“There’s always been such a strong relationship between CHS and La Loche,” he said.

The 2015 season kicks off for CHS this weekend with a tournament at Carlton Comprehensive High School in Prince Albert. Although CHS did not qualify for provincials last year, Handspiker believes the P.A. event will be the first of many to take his team toward its ultimate goal.

“We have a large number of Grade 12s this year, so we hope to be very strong and to have a great season,” he said. “We’ve had a great group of girls come out who were at Jonas Samson Junior High last year, and they look strong as well.”

Hatch, meanwhile, said his team primarily consists of Grade 11 players.

“This will likely be our third straight year of building,” he said. “We hosted 4A provincials last year where we finished ninth out of 10 teams. But, we had a young team. What matters is we have a good group of girls who love to play the game.”

Boys start season
Also set to see action this weekend is the CHS boys team, when they head to Prince Albert for a tournament at St. Mary High School.

“We have a very young team this year – we have a lot of fresh faces,” coach Cheyne Dallyn remarked. “Sixteen boys came out to tryouts, from which 11 were selected to be on the team. They’re mostly Grade 10s and 11s with only one Grade 12 player, but the upside is we’ll have this same team for the next couple of years.”

Last year, the CHS boys placed fourth at 5A provincials in Saskatoon.

“This year, our goals is to again make provincials,” Dallyn said. “It will be interesting to see where we end up.”

In La Loche, boys coach Phyllis Longobardi also heads up what she described as a “strong team.”

“We lost two players from last year, but still have a strong nucleus,” she said. “This weekend in Prince Albert will tell the tale, though. I think we’ll do well, but you never know because someone can always come up and bite you in the behind.”

Later this season, La Loche will host the provincial 4A boys tournament.

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