Two volleyball teams who know each other so well will meet in the semifinals of the Provincial AAAA High School Varsity Boys Championship in Winnipeg.
There will be no surprises Thursday night at Investors Group Athletic Centre at the University of Manitoba when the third seed Steinbach Regional Secondary School faces the second seed Dakota Lancers with a spot in the provincial final on the line.
"It's exciting," said SRSS middle hitter Nick Unger at the MHSAA's Final Four media conference at the Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame in Winnipeg. "It feels like we've been practicing forever and now it comes down to one night. We've had a few good weeks of practice and right now we're all excited."
The Sabres and Lancers have faced each other six times since the start of September.
Dakota beat Steinbach Regional in both South Central Athletic Conference regular season matches as well as the SCAC final.
The Lancers also beat the Sabres in the final of the Lord Selkirk Royals Spike Off.
The SRSS knocked off Dakota in the semifinals of the Daniel McIntyre Tournament and in the round robin of the St. Vital Invitational.
"I don't want to say that we're overconfident because that would be a trap but I think we're anticipating a great match," said Sabres coach Greg Loeppky. "I think we want to be super competitive. If we can come out and play competitive volleyball, then I like our chances."
"We've got a real athletic team and our team doesn't give up," added Loeppky. "If we're down a couple of sets we'll just keep playing. Half the guys on our team won a provincial (AAAA Junior Varsity) championship last year with Michelle (assistant coach Sawatzky-Koop) and they dropped the first two sets and then took three straight. Our boys have a lot of fight and that's what you need going down the stretch."
The first serve is scheduled for 6 p.m. at the Investors Group Athletic Centre.
"We need to put up a good block against their big hitters and just play defense really well, just like we've been practicing," answered SRSS right-side hitter Dean Fehr when asked what the key is Thursday night against the Lancers. "Like coach Loeppky said, I think we have a really good chance of winning."
The other semifinal between the number one seed St. Paul's Crusaders and fourth seed Lord Selkirk Royals begins at 8 p.m. at the University of Manitoba campus.
The winners meet Monday night in the provincial final.
photo courtesy Melissa Unger