The Cochrane High varsity girls volleyball team is returning to the provincials after winning a hotly-contested south-central zone final in Strathmore, Nov. 18.
Both of the school's junior volleyball teams also claimed gold at their zone finals and the senior boys team won bronze.
Finishing first in their pool after a nail-biter against the Springbank Phoenix, the Cobras varsity team beat the Bobcats two sets straight to advance to the final against the Brooks Buffalos. The Cobras were behind the eight-ball after the Buffalos won the first set 25-16. They won back-to-back sets (25-23 and 16-14) to claim gold in what head coach Esther Sieben described as a barn-burner.
"I'm very proud of the girls and by no means was it a cakewalk," says Sieben. "It was some tough volleyball, a lot of mental tenacity, and making sure that we had strong servers when it came down to 14-14, and then 15-14. They were mentally tough. They came out swinging and aggressive, and I don't know how, but we came out on top."
She praises the strong showing of Rocky View teams, who won three of the four top spots, and is particularly proud that Cochrane schools were two of them. The Bow Valley Bobcats placed fourth, advancing to the bronze medal game against the Phoenix.
Provincials start Thursday (Nov. 23) in Strathmore. It's the third time this season the Cobras have played in Strathmore. The first time around they finished poorly in a tournament before striking gold at zones.
Early ASAA rankings placed them eighth in the province but they dropped out of the 10 after that tournament.
Sieben says they've been battling through injuries.
"We still have those injuries but we've been able to play a little better every time."
Three south-central zone teams have advanced to the provincials. Because of their strong programs, the south-central zone was awarded a wild card spot that went to the Brooks Buffalos. The Strathmore Spartans earned a berth as the host school.
The Cobras play Peace Wapiti in their opening game at 1:15 p.m. on Thursday.
The Jr. Girls Cobras won their second banner of the season after defeating two straight matches against the Phoenix. They previously won the divisional banner in straight sets against the George McDougall Mustangs.
It was also the Jr. boys second banner for the season. At the divisional level, they defeated the Mustangs three straight to claim gold. At zones, it was the Spartans that fell, 2-1.
Zones are the end of the road for junior high school volleyball teams.
The varsity boys team defeated the Phoenix in an epic 2-1 match for the bronze medal. It was some redemption for the Cobras, who had lost to the Phoenix in the quarterfinals of the divisional championship.
The success on the courts has become a Cochrane High tradition.
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