The boys of Trinity Christian Academy’s (TCA) volleyball team proved they’re a force to be reconned with on Nov. 12-13, as they returned from Airdrie as zone champions.
The team’s head coach, Jon Rilling, said the title was hard won and was certainly well earned by his team.
“The boys played well. It was good to see, they worked pretty hard,” he explained.
According to Rilling, the TCA dominated the round robin, winning all three of their games in straight sets to take first in the pool, which gave the boys a bye from the quarter finals.
Coming right into the semifinals, TCA went up against Trochu Valley School, which was the second time the two teams had played against each other this season – the first being at Trochu’s home tournament earlier in the season.
“We knew a little bit about them, they had a couple of stronger players. They’re a good team – very scrappy, so it’s hard to get a ball down on them,” said Rilling.
Defeating Trochu and advancing to the finals, TCA was set to square off against Airdrie Christian Academy (ACA), who was the hosting team for the tournament.
According to Rilling, the ACA team certainly had an age advantage over the TCA boys, as the majority of the competing team was made up of Grade 9 students, versus TCA having four Grade 6 students.
“We knew it was going to be a good test. I feel like they probably underestimated us, which happened most of the time during the year because we had a couple of tall kids – our two Grade 9’s and then after that we were very small,” explained Rilling.
“On paper, what we looked like didn’t (appear) like we were going to be that difficult of a game.”
In volleyball, height is often a valuable asset to a player. With the TCA team being on average younger than most, many of the boys have not yet begun their growth spurts.
Regardless, Rilling said his boys opened strong against ACA, taking an early lead.
“We’ve got three or four really good servers on the team, which makes it difficult on the other team to pass and make a play and then we had some good, timely attacks and blocks from our middles,” he explained.
In the second set, TCA was down eight points before a time out was called and gave the team a chance to rethink their approach.
“They put their heads down and they served again really well and we caught back up. I think we ended up catching up 18-18,” said Rilling. “They played hard, they dug balls, they blocked balls and honestly you could see the Airdire kids, after they started losing points, they got nervous … hitting balls into the net and missing serves.”
The game proceeded to tie at 22-22 before the TCA team overtook ACA once again.
“Our last point was on a free ball from them that we set, then we hit it off the block and out of bounds which gave us the win,” explained Rilling.
“It was an exciting way to win a game because it was on an attack. The boys, they’ve got a lot of heart and they don’t get intimidated.”
He added his team, despite their age, are a very determined bunch who have a tendency not to back down or ever get discouraged.
“For as young as they are, they don’t get discouraged and they don’t back down. (Over) the last month, they rarely lost a set,” he said. “They just thought they could win and nobody told them they couldn’t.”
Further, the team also excels defensively and any points they lost, they put up a fight for.
“Defensively, they were very good. They didn’t let balls hit the ground and that was something that was (consistent) across our whole team,” he said. “They dug balls, they dove, they skinned their knees and their elbows and their hips and they just gave everything they could.”
-Story from the Strathmore Times