Even with just a line and a half, the Calvin Christian Eagles are finding ways to make things work.
The Eagles rank second in the province in the varsity boys’ AAA rankings, even though they have a roster of just nine players.
Head coach Ted Jeninga said team members are well-versed in the game, as many of them also play club, while having all nine players stand over six feet tall doesn’t hurt either. Even with some strengths, Jeninga said it’s difficult to run practices, so some areas of the game do suffer.
"We’re probably known for hitting the ball, and our passing is actually very good, our setting is fine," Jeninga said. "Our blocking is still something that we have to work on. We find that hard, because we only have nine players. It’s hard to run a full practice without 12 guys, so two full teams.
"Things like serving, passing, and hitting, you can do all that without having a full team, but blocking and some of the defensive coverages are things that we struggle with, things we don’t get to practice as much as we should."
The Eagles are impacted by a small school population — over a quarter of its Grade 12 male students are on the team, but that only amounts to three out of 11.
"You get to high school, and it’s a bit of a commitment in time," Jeninga said. "A couple of guys live too far away, and one guy doesn’t like volleyball, and pretty soon, you’re left with that many guys."
Though the Eagles face an uphill battle, they’re still looking for a provincial championship to go alongside the one they nabbed in 2008.
"We really want to win provincials," said determined Grade 11 right-side Matthew Ginter. "That’s our top goal."
Calvin Christian did make an early-season statement against rival Springs Christian, turning around a game in which it was down two sets to none to score a 3-2 victory.
"It’s always nice to win those hard games than winning an easier game," said Grade 12 setter Trevor Dalmaijer. "You feel better beating a team that’s just with you."
Grade 11 middle Spencer Janzen said the Eagles started communicating better, and were able to get into the game just in time to win.
"Focus — focus is a big thing for our team," Janzen said. "We started off terrible, and did not play well."