By Greg Price
The St. Mary’s Celtics boys volleyball team hopes history repeats itself in some aspects and not others as it heads down the home stretch to its season.
The team is preparing for both its 2A South Zone tournament that starts this Thursday at Lethbridge College and also as hosts of provincials from Nov. 23-25.
St. Mary’s Celtics have taken the zone banner the last two years and hope to make it a third at Lethbridge College. There is a seven-team field vying for the battle, with St. Mary’s coming in as the third seed, behind first-ranked Immanuel Christian and second-ranked Picture Butte. Also in the field are Kate Andrews, Vauxhall, Crowsnest Pass and County Central.
Because of the strength of the south zone, along with the gold-medal banner winner, another wild card is being awarded, so there will be three representatives from the area when St. Mary’s host provincials, regardless of how the Celtics finish in the battle of the three top teams which has been very close.
“All the games have been close (with Picture Butte and Immanuel Christian). Scores like 25-22, 25-23. We haven’t beat either of those teams yet, but we are right there. It’s just a matter of getting our unforced errors under control,” said Derry Kolody, head coach of the St. Mary’s Celtics boys volleyball team. “We’ve had a tendency of shooting ourselves in the foot whenever we play those teams. Too many free points that cost us. If we can just play good, scrappy defence, serve tough and pass well, there is not a team in the province I think that can beat us.”
Kolody has no reservations if his team makes aggressive mistakes like balls off the top of the tape, hits a foot out, but it’s double-digit lax mistakes the man at the helm says the Celtics have to clean up in its zone and provincial aspirations.
“I can live with certain mistakes. But when grandma is getting peppered in the bleachers by balls, that’s not the best thing to do. We are really concentrating on that, playing good, sound, clean volleyball,” said Kolody. “We will be the underdog going into provincials, but I think this team has the skill to be the Cinderella story.”
Whatever teams make provincials, Kolody promises they will be tough servers in which he sees the Celtics strength in its passing in setting up the attack.
“You have teams that are six servers deep and here comes a bomb, here comes a spin serve and we stick in there and handle it. And our two middles have done a really good job blocking wise, that has contributed to a lot of our points over the course of the year,” said Kolody. “Our passing crew of Jobert Cruz, Rory Murphy, and Mason Muller is pretty good and does the bulk of the passing. If they can go there and have fun and embrace it, I think we will be all right.”
St. Mary’s Celtics start its zone run at Lethbridge College Thursday at 8 p.m. with a match against top-ranked Immanuel Christian. The team also plays at 9 p.m.
Playoffs start on Saturday at 10 a.m. with the last semifinal match at 1:45 p.m. Gold-medal and bronze-medal matches go Saturday at 8 p.m.
St. Mary’s will be hosting 2A boys provincials with opening ceremonies at 9 a.m. on Nov. 23. Tournament play will go from Nov. 23-25 at St. Mary’s and W.R. Myers gymnasiums. Bronze-medal match goes 5:30 p.m. at St. Mary’s on Nov. 25 with the gold-medal match at 6:45 p.m. The full schedule for provincials will be finalized after zones.
“It will be our third-straight year at provincials. It’ll be neat to see, especially for my seniors that it will be their third straight provincials, I have been coaching them since they were in Grade 6. My shout out to St. Mary’s (for hosting provincials) because this may be my last hurrah and day at the dance,” said Kolody. “Hopefully we can get better results than we have had in the past, we’ve had some bad luck in the last two provincials. Don’t count us out for sure, we will be right in the mix.”