By Scott Schmidt
Alberta Newspaper Group
The Foremost School Forettes senior girls volleyball team has lofty goals for the end of the season and a familiar face back to help them get there.
Head coach Mandy Hougen, who had in the past coached the team for four years, has returned from maternity leave to help a team she sees a lot of potential in.
“We have a strong team,” said Hougen. “I only came back to coach because I know these girls, this is a really coachable group and I know they have a lot of potential.
“They’re athletically strong, they listen so well and apply what they learn.”
The season is already well underway, with several league games and tournaments already in the books, but actual results aren’t a high priority just yet. When playoffs arrive, teams will be grouped together based on school size, but for now Foremost (a 1A school) will face a number of larger schools.
That doesn’t translate great to the stat sheet all the time, but it sure help you see where improvements are needed.
“We’re a smaller 1A school, so in league play we go up against bigger schools,” Hougen said. “It’s a good chance to get everyone into the game. Our whole league is full of teams like that.
“Our goal is to do well at zones and then go to provincials. That’s what we’re working towards.”
The team has played two league matches to date, with a three-set loss to Eagle Butte followed by a game in Brooks, where Foremost gave the host team all it could handle.
“We took two sets off them, and you could tell we were right there,” Hougen said.
The club has also played in a few tournaments already, even winning the Eagle Butte JV tournament, which it attends every year. Sure, it’s a JV tournament, Hougen admits, but it was once again larger school, and any win is a good one.
Another measuring stick game came at a tournament in Red Deer, where they squared off against the defending 1A provincial champions from Lacombe.
“We took a set off them and played them pretty tough,” said Hougen. “We were pretty happy to see that we matched up well against them.
“We didn’t do much at that tournament, but we played well for our fist one (of the season).”
Again, the goal is to peak late, so Hougen has a lot of time to see where this team is at and, more importantly, how it stacks up against its competition. The provincial championships are hosted this year in Bow Island, so there is extra motivation to be part of that.
“It would really be nice to get there,” she said. “It would be amazing to be there and have our whole town to support us.”