Cougars Attain Perfection
Caronport wins title to cap unbeaten volleyball season
Written By Matthew Gourlie, Moose Jaw Times Herald
The Caronport Cougars knew they had a very good team, but the idea of being perfect had never crossed their mind.
Saturday the Cougars ran the table at the SHSAA 4A girls volleyball championship and claimed a provincial title. The win also completed an unbeaten season.
"It's something you never expect, that's for sure," said Caronport head coach Derek Zacharias. "We worked hard and trained and the girls put the work in. When you play a high school league schedule and a tournament schedule this is something you never even think about quite honestly. We never thought about it as a team goal that we would go after. We played one weekend at a time and that's the way things worked out."
The Cougars actually trailed in the final before rallying to beat Watrous 2-0 (25-23, 25-9).
"Watrous played very well. We had a few errors and they jumped into a bit of a lead against us," Zacharias said.
Caronport was down 18-14 and in the unfamiliar role of having top battle back in the first set. Still, they were able to rally and claim the first set.
"They played well and continued to score points. We were fortunate that about two-thirds of the way through the set we got a little momentum back and were able to catch them at 20 and pull ahead," Zacharias said. "It hasn't happened very often, but the girls kept their composure. We talked in our time outs about continuing to focus on the plays that we wanted to make and not worry about the scoreboard. We thought that if we could make enough good plays we could catch them and go ahead."
The Cougars didn't drop a set in pool play and beat Rosetown 2-0 (25-20, 25-15) in the semifinal and they beat Esterhazy 2-0 (25-18, 25-11) in the quarter-final.
The Cougars had six Grade 12s and five of their starting seven-player rotation were seniors.
They were brimming with talent. Setter Jess Zacharias was Sask. Volleyball's 16U female player of the year for 2015. She set the table for six-foot power Emily Koshinsky who was Sask. Volleyball's 16U female player of the year the previous two seasons.
The team also features Shae Beaulieau who was on the Western Canada Summer Games provincial team, while Middles Charisa Kienle and Clare Wanner and right side Shaelyn Knudson all had a strong tournament.
Caronport didn't end up facing most of the top 5A teams in the province, but that ended up being more down to chance. They won all six tournaments they attended including the Moose Jaw Invitational, the Mega-Volley tournament in Regina and the Univ. of Saskatchewan tournament in Saskatoon.
They did beat 5A silver medalists Balgonie Greenall twice, but didn't meet 5A champions Regina Campbell who didn't reach the final in the tournament the two teams attended.
"The way the draws worked out we didn't get matched up with all of those teams," Zacharias said.
Caronport lost the provincial final to Waldheim a year ago and also won the Moose Jaw city title for the first time since 2012.