By Sean Rooney on November 9, 2018.
Up a set and five points away from a second straight league title, Eagle Butte Talons coach Maurey Salmon called time out.
In the varsity girls final of the South East Zone Volleyball League Thursday, nothing was left to chance.
“He just told us to take a breath and just play like we can,” said middle Megan Kowalski, named the league MVP earlier in the night. “It really makes a difference when he is trying to bring us up.”
Alas, it was Kowalski who had just shanked a pass to give the Hat High Kwahommies a bit of life despite the score being 20-17 in the Talons’ favour. But she wasn’t worried. Eagle Butte won five of the next seven points for a handy 2-0 (25-18, 25-19) win.
“I think we really picked ourselves up as a team, really worked together,” said Kowalski. “It was a really good feeling.”
A sterling pancake dig helped win the final point in the first set, and the Talons simply seemed in control all night long.
“At the end of the day tonight (Eagle Butte) brought it to them and I don’t think they were ready for that,” said Hat High coach Steve Russell of his team. “(But) I see their heads up ready for that next challenge.”
Both finalists are feeling good going into their respective zone playdowns next week. The Talons, who went to provincials last year, will be back in the Crescent Heights gym they won Thursday’s title in for the 3A tournament. The Kwahommies will head to Lethbridge for the 4A event.
“Last year we lost in the (league) semifinals so this was in itself a big accomplishment,” said Kwahommies senior Cait MacMillan. “Obviously provincials is our goal, we’re going to push really hard this week to make that happen.”
MacMillan’s side swept McCoy in the semifinals while the Talons needed three sets to dispatch the host Vikings 2-1 (25-21, 20-25, 15-7).
The end might be near, but both teams know there’s still lots of volleyball left to play.
“This team, we work hard every day,” said Mackenzie Weiss, like Kowalski a Grade 12 Talons right side looking to wind up her high school career with more great memories. “We don’t stop. We do dive lines, as much as we hate it, we keep going. To have this is really good. Going into zones it’s a good confidence builder.”
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