LANGLEY – After finishing second to Kelowna Secondary in their pool, the Earl Marriott boys’ volleyball team defeated the Owls in the provincial final in four sets (25-23, 20-25, 25-16, 26-24) on Saturday (Nov. 29) at Langley Events Centre.
Entering the B.C. High School Boys’ Triple A Volleyball Provincial Championships, Kelowna was ranked as the province’s top team, despite the Mariners serving as defending and Fraser Valley champions.
Bob Smith and Richard Thain, the coaches of the Earl Marriott team, were extremely proud of the poise the boys showed after a nervous start to the tournament.
"I think the boys were putting a lot of pressure on themselves to get back to the final," Smith said. "Once they realized they were there, they didn’t have anything to prove."
Thain added: "A different group stepped up to the plate this year. We’re hoping that the kids who are in Grade 11 this year can step up and do the same thing next year."
Despite a tough start to the season, Smith said the team finished the season strong, adding two more banners to the school’s collection.
"November is just our month. We find a way to peak at the right time and figure things out," he said.
Team captain Justin Faester was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player, while Eric Lee received first-team all-star recognition.
Faester tallied 15 kills and six digs, serving two aces in the final against Kelowna, while Lee tallied five kills and three blocks.
Both coaches added that Kelowna was a class act following the Mariners win, noting they entered the tournament as the team to beat.
"They threw everything they could at us. They changed their lineup. They did a lot of good things, but ultimately, our boys just played loose and were really able to perform when it counted," said Smith.
Fraser Heights finished the tournament in fifth place. The Firehawks lost in the quarter-finals to Mt. Boucherie 3-1 (25-19, 25-23, 21-25, 25-16), but rebounded with wins over Delta and G.P. Vanier.
"When they look back at the experience, knowing they played well, played hard, it will be important," Fraser Heights head coach James Ahn said in a release. "And you never want to end the season on a loss. This was a character win more than anything else."
Johnston Heights, Fraser Heights’ neighbour and one of the surprises of the tournament, finished in 10th.
Despite finishing at the bottom of their pool, the Eagles beat Dover Bay, Mt. Baker and Van Tech in the knockout/seeding round.
North Delta’s Seaquam finished the tournament in 15th place.
In the quad A girls’ tournament, Earl Marriott, Lord Tweedsmuir and Elgin Park lost in the quarter-finals – the Mariners to Fraser Valley champions Riverside, the Panthers to bronze-medalists Kelowna and the Orcas to eventual champions Argyle.
Earl Marriott finished the tournament in fifth place, with Cara Keturakis receiving first team all-star honours.
Elgin Park beat Lord Tweedsmuir in the seventh-place match, and North Surrey finished the tournament in 14th place.