Rattlers volleyballers at Kelowna for Valley Championships

By Don Urquhart, Times Chronicle

The Osoyoos Secondary School (OSS) Senior Girls volleyball team is currently in Kelowna playing at the Okanagan Valleys tournament this weekend (Nov. 18-19) which will determine whether they make it to provincial championships.

At a final practice Thursday afternoon at OSS, team captain Paige Hanson said the team was “pretty nervous going into the Valleys after having such a big win,” in reference to the two-day Rattler Rumble tournament on Nov. 4-5 which saw the Rattlers emerge victorious.

OSS Rattlers dominate in Rattler Rumble tourney

“I’m pretty excited that we won the tournament because it was a big accomplishment and we tried our hardest and we went to a lot of close games.”

And while nervous about the Valleys, Hanson says she is also “very excited and I feel that we’re definitely ready.”

When asked whether the team is feeling pressure because they need to do well at the Valleys in order to progress to the Provincials, she says, “it’s kind of nerve-wracking!”

“I feel there’s a bit of expectations but I feel like our team doesn’t have to base everything off of what last year was like – we can make our own way. But we’re really excited,” she adds.

The final practice before heading up to Kelowna for the Okanagan Valleys tournament. Don Urquhart photo

Overall Hanson feels the team has very good defensive play, has some good attackers and serving its getting stronger. Overall she says, “we have more strengths than weaknesses”.

Head Coach John Swanson agrees saying this year has been a “year of transition” due to the fact there were only four returning players from last year’s Provincial Championship team.

One of the things the team has done with this small core of four players is “lean on them to kind of guide us at times, just on gameplay and what’s expected.”

“The core group has really stepped up and played well and it’s it’s been nice to see the team progress with some successes in the tournaments.” The Rattlers will face some of the teams they beat in the Rattler Rumble tournament at the Valleys.

The key to success at the Valleys will be to “serve tough and pass well,” he says. “Our attack is getting better so ladies are working on that part of their game. Defensively we’re quite a strong unit but we’re not the tallest team,” said noting last year’s team had some height which translated into some great blocking ability which was “a real asset for us.”

“This year’s unit is just a little bit shorter in stature, but what we don’t get in blocking we get in just real hustle and defence.”

“In particular, our coverage against the attacking teams has been really good and right now we’re learning to try to transition from those back row digs to getting good offensive attacks,” he said.

The Rattlers came out strong in their first matchup at the Valleys against Barriere Secondary School on the morning if Friday (Nov 18) beating them in two matches 25 to 17 and 25 to 7.

“The ladies played exceptionally well, we were exceptionally strong in our serving, setting and attacking,” Swanson said from Kelowna. “It was a great start to our valleys!”

OSS Rattler's volleyball

Rattlers Head Coach John Swanson gives some tips during practice. Don Urquhart photo

Unfortunately the Rattlers lost the next three matches to Charles Bloom Secondary School (Lumby), 22 to 25, 25 to 20 and 15 to 10.

Swanson noted that Charles Bloom changed their lineup in the second set and “their blocking made the biggest difference in winning the match.”

The Rattlers’ third round on Friday against Immaculata Regional High School (Kelowna) also challenged the Rattlers who lost in two straight sets 21 to 25, and 20 to 25.

“Unfortunately again we struggled scoring points later in the sets. Some untimely mis-serves also got Immaculata back in the sets after we got out to a decent leads, coach Swanson noted.

The win and two losses places the OSS Rattlers third in their pool and they will go on to play the second place team in their crossover Saturday (Nov. 19) morning.

The top three teams from the Okanagan Valleys tournament will go to the Provincials in Prince George on Dec. 1-3

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