When they were ranked as underdogs, the Cochrane Cobras varsity girls' volleyball team turned a deaf ear and stayed the course.

The ASAA 3A provincial bronze medals that now dangle from their necks are symbols of the tenacity they demonstrated and are keepsakes from their golden moments on the court.

The team overcame injuries and sickness to emerge to the top three in the province in the 12-team championship tournament.

"It's been a really a roller coaster ride, but to end it all off with a bronze medal, I think the girls are extremely proud of their grit and determination as they push through all these teams," says head coach Esther Sieben. "There wasn't one team at this provincial championships that didn't want it."

She said every game in the medal finals went to a 16-14 decision in the third set.

"We were just the team that had a little bit more heart, a little bit more tenacity and mental strength, and we were able to pull off the bronze medal match. We're extremely proud of our accomplishments this season."

The Cobras weren't even seeded in the top 12 coming into the tournament and were placed in the middle of the 'B' pool.

They topped their pool in the round-robin and beat McGrath 25-20 and 25-17 in the quarterfinals to advance to the semis. There they came against a tough Holy Rosary team and lost in straight sets.

The Cobras won the bronze medal match against St. Joseph's of Grande Prairie in a 16-14 victory in the rubber.

A tradition of the team is to bring along some junior players to give exposure to what it takes to be a provincial champion, even if they don't step on the court. But they did this year, says Sieben.

"We do that every year to show them what it's like to be at a provincial championship and to have a look at our leadership. The leadership that we currently have teaches the leadership of tomorrow. And I really like the like, even if they never set foot on the court. Our playoffs were amazing this past weekend."

Sieben is proud of the quality of volleyball in the south-central zone and how it has deserved the wild cards they've been awarded in recent years.

The Brooks Buffalos, who were second in the zone finals and entered on a wild card, finished fifth overall,

"We've made our case for having that wild card birth into the provincial championships because not every zone gets two teams."

Because they were the host, the Strathmore Spartans also received a berth.

She speaks highly of other Rocky View teams as well. The George McDougall Mustangs boys team won gold for 3A schools and the W. H. Croxford Cavaliers competed in the 4A provincials.

"We're really making a name for ourselves in the volleyball world as the Rocky View School Division, so kudos to them and the coaches and the communities that are taking these teams to compete against the best in the province."

Sieben remains grateful for the support they received from their school and the community.

"This doesn't happen on its own. We are a team supported and held up high by the support network of the people around us, and so, sports continue to grow in the Cochrane community because of the strength and the growth mindset in our community of just trying to get better. So kudos to everyone."

In response to Canada's Online News Act and Meta (Facebook and Instagram) removing access to local news from their platforms, CochraneNow encourages you to get your news directly from your trusted source by bookmarking this page and downloading the CochraneNow app.