The Cochrane High senior girls volleyball team went into last weekend's provincials in Beaverlodge on a mission to upgrade last year’s silver medal to gold.
Not only did the team succeed, but they went through the tournament without losing a single set, a rare feat in provincials, and became the school's first volleyball team to win the 3A banner.
“The girls were extremely focused from the very first point,” says head coach Janette Solecki. “You could just tell they were there to be as successful as they possibly could and it definitely showed in their game plan. They never wavered; they were on a mission.”
Among their five round-robin wins was one against St. Joseph Catholic School, of Grande Prairie, whom they lost to in a close final last year.
Earning a bye into the semifinals, they defeated Edmonton Christian and in the final they downed Peace Wapiti Academy, 25-19 and 25-21, to win the gold.
“A lot of those girls were a big part of the team last and they were on the court when we got the silver," Solecki explains.
"It was pretty hard because last season was an excellent season as well and they were very successful. It was there, it was so close and I do believe they learned from that. They learned they didn’t want that feeling again and knew what it was going to take to come out on the other side of the final.”
“You could see they had a fire and the look in their eyes; they were out to finish the job.”
Without a doubt, this team is exceptional. They won four of their five tournaments largely against larger 4A teams and their only blemish, if you can call it that, was a silver medal at the University of Calgary tournament. Playing in five tournament finals helped prepare for the pressure and the calibre of a provincial championship.
The majority of the players have played together since grade 9. Three of them--Trinity Solecki, Taylor Clemett and Brooklyn Ceh—have been playing together since grade 7.
Head Coach Solecki has been coaching most of these players since grade 9 at Cochrane High and some of the players even earlier. She's enjoyed being with them through to their final game in grade 12.
“They’ve had to battle together and they’ve had to rely on each other and support on each other on the court. That’s a hard thing to teach, but they’ve developed that over the years.”
“Aside from that, they’re incredible people, amazing young ladies and their personalities attribute to that as well.”
“For me knowing these girls and have them finish and see them perform as they did and peak at the right time was a phenomenal experience.”
Six members of their nine-member roster are graduating grade 12 students. For the provincials, they expanded their roster to 12, adding three juniors to give them experience in preparation for next season.
Several of the graduating players are considering playing at the post-secondary level. Trinity Solecki already signed with the University of Calgary Dinos in the summer and will have a chance to play for the Dinos with her sister, Rachel, who’s in her fourth year with the team.
Coach Solecki, herself, is a two-time Canadian Beach Volleyball champion, a national champion with the U of C Dinos and is a national women’s indoor team alumnus. In addition to high school volleyball, she instructs the sport for a Calgary club.
“It’s a chance for me to give back and help these girls who want to learn this amazing game. It’s a pleasure to be a part of the game still as a coach.”
Senior Boys make quarterfinals
The senior boys' team had a solid tournament and advanced to the quarterfinals in the 3A boys provincials held in Rocky Mountain House. In the playoffs, they faced the Barrhead Composite, who went on to win the gold medal.
Head coach Doug Jensen says it was a great year for the team who met all of its goals for the season. For the first time in 23 years, the Cobras boys team won the zone to advance to the provincials. At the provincials, they met their target of coming out of the round-robin and earn a playoff berth.
Cobras Volleyball Teams Off to Provincials; First Time for Boys in 23 Years
Comments? Questions? Story ideas? Email us at [email protected]