By Ryan McCracken on February 9, 2019.
With three matches left in the regular season, the Medicine Hat College Rattlers women’s volleyball team is hanging on by a thread.
Thanks to a 3-0 (25-13, 26-24, 25-14) win over the Olds Broncos Friday at the Snake Pit, that thread got a little stronger. Keep winning, and the team that’s dealt with multiple major injuries could yet wind up in the post-season.
“If we keep winning we’re good, so we’re in control of that,” said Rattlers coach Kim Stonehouse following Friday’s victory. “All we’re focusing on right now is controlling our destiny. We can only do what we can do, so our goal is to go out and win these next four matches no matter what and be proud of our performance this season.”
Now 10-11, Medicine Hat is six points back of SAIT (13-8) for fourth spot in the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference South Division. They have to win each of their final three games and have SAIT lose all of theirs. The top four teams will advance to conference finals at Ambrose in Calgary.
But SAIT lost 3-2 (25-23, 25-21, 21-25, 22-25, 15-9) at top-ranked Briercrest Friday, plays the Clippers again Saturday, and then it could get really interesting.
The Trojans host the Rattlers next Friday, and the final match of the regular season for both teams is in Medicine Hat next Saturday night.
“If it goes our way it should come down to that Saturday night match,” said Stonehouse. “But we’re just focusing on one match at a time. Obviously that’s something that we have in the back of our minds.”
First thing’s first though. This Saturday they rematch with the Broncos, who are now 1-20 but nearly took the second set off the Rattlers. It took a couple nervous points for the home side to come back from trailing 24-21, including a kill from Janelle Neyron that barely touched the fingers of a blocker, then a changeup from Neyron that inched over the net for the tying point.
Neyron’s 12 kills led all players, and she added 12 digs. Libero Shaya Suchy added to her team career lead with 19 digs, and rookie Josie Gosling had a solid outing with three kills, seven digs and a block.
“It’s nice to see those young players step up when they’re given the opportunity,” Stonehouse said of Gosling, who was not made available for a post-match interview. “She played really well tonight, she did exactly what we need her to do and that was block and put the ball in play.”
Stonehouse admitted her team had a lull in energy after dominating the first set. But they picked up their energy late in the second and carried it on for the straight-sets victory.
The key Saturday will be to keep the momentum the whole way through.
“Any time that you’re able to win by that many, it’s hard not to get comfortable,” said Stonehouse. “We talked about that, we just got comfortable and made too many errors. That’s a learning situation that we’re going to take, and next time we’re in that situation then hopefully we don’t do the same thing.”
Olds was led by six kills from Emily Zaleschuk and Karley Dieken, and 12 digs frorm Clara Serrano.
The rematch goes Saturday at 1 p.m.
Before the men’s match Friday night the Rattlers took the step of issuing what amounted to a formal apology to the family of Brett Bell.
Bell, who played for the men’s volleyball team from 2009 to 2011 and died in a motorcycle crash in 2013, had his No. 8 jersey retired later that year. But the Rattlers brought it out of retirement in 2017.
The News reported last month that the Bell family requested the jersey be re-retired this past November. Sport and Wellness manager Terry Ballard said at the time there was confusion over whether the jersey was to have been retired at all.
With college officials looking on Friday, Ballard spoke for a little more than two minutes while a single slide showing Bell’s name and information was displayed for fans.
“We have to say that earlier this season we made an error,” said Ballard. “For us, Brett Bell will always be a Rattler. His jersey will continue to be honoured, and you can see it hanging on the wall up there as well.”
Bell’s parents were said to have watched the webcast from their home in Red Deer.
The Rattlers men’s volleyball team had a similar night to their women, sweeping Olds 3-0 (25-17, 26-24, 25-18).
Also 11-10, Medicine Hat is fourth in the South while Olds dropped to 0-21.
KeAndre Evans had 14 kills and seven digs for the home side, which also got eight kills and eight digs from Alfred Dalevik, who had previously worn No. 8 but switched to No. 1 this semester.
Thundersky Walkingbear’s nine kills and six digs led the Broncos.
The teams rematch Saturday at 3 p.m.
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