By Justin Seward
After appearing in the provincials as a wildcard team last season, the Eagle Butte High School Talons senior girls volleyball are poised for more in hopes of winning the 3A school provincial this time around.
“That was a great accomplishment last year,” said head coach Maurey Salmon.
“It’s always hard. If you look at the wall, before I took over, this team was pretty successful. They’ve actually won a provincials and they’ve have gone to provincials with their previous coaches. There is some history here and it comes down to how you play at the end of the year.
“There’s a possibility of eight teams this year and out of those eight, we’ve got a chance.”
The path back to provincials began with an early measuring stick against McCoy and Crescent Heights High School, which were tough matches and a good indicator of what’s to come when playoffs roll around.
“We definitely paid attention to what they’re doing and stuff we have to work on to get better next time we play them,” said Salmon.
“Crescent Heights is going to be very tough. They serve the ball super hard. That’s the big strength of theirs at the start of the year. McCoy, when they beat us, they came at us from everywhere. We got to play a little better defence. They’re definitely a little better defensively then us.”
Salmon is happy to have the five Grade 12s for leadership this year and the offense but like any sport, there is room for improvement.
“Still like any team, we have to be a little better at servicey,” said Salmon.
“We’re hoping to serve a little better this year. Those are the two things we’re keying on.”
Work was instilled into the players since Day 1 of the campaign from Salmon, because he felt the girls didn’t have the work ethic the last couple of seasons and are starting to buy in a lot more in matches.
“For us, it means a lot,” he said.
“In the past we’ve talked about ‘it’s contagious,’ both ways and we’re actually happy with the way it’s going. A lot of girls are starting to do stuff they haven’t done before because they’re seeing their teammates do it as well.”
An exciting opportunity has presented itself with the team with younger girls pushing the Grade 12s for playing time, which is a result of performance in Salmon’s view.
Captain Megan Kowalski has seen strong communication among the girls and have played together as a team, whereas in previous years there were trouble with team work.
“It really builds it up because if a player gets down, you know that your close friends are there to pick you up,” said Kowalski.
“I do get frustrated and I want to work on minimizing that so I don’t bring my other teammates down. I just want to work on my fundamentals, back row especially.”