The sweet taste of victory was savoured by Elgin Park Secondary junior boys’ volleyball team after a weekend tournament.
It marks the first time in a quarter of a century that the junior Orcas have won a provincial championship, noted Elgin P.E. teacher and Orcas coach Mike Jamieson.
A former Elgin Park grad, Jamieson remembers the last time the junior boys (Grades 9 and 10) volleyball team won a provincial title, he was still a student at the school.
The junior boys Orcas had an outstanding year in volleyball, winning the Surrey League championship and coming in second place in the South Fraser championships before going into the provincial tournament ranked as No. 7 in the province.
“Our two toughest tests of the tournament came against Kelowna in the quarterfinal and Langley Christian in the final,” Jamieson said.
“We were down 19-11 in the first set to Kelowna and 6-2 in the third and were able to rally to win.”
With the home crowd cheering for the local Kelowna team and the Elgin squad looking dejected, Jamieson told the Orcas – loudly – “You’re going to be so happy when you win, start acting like it right now.”
“They all smiled and you could see the weight roll off their shoulders as they turned on the jets and sealed the victory.”
The championship was played against Langley Christian High School, which, Jamieson noted, is supported by the largest fan base in the province.
Langley Christian jumped out to a loud 6-1 lead in the first set, but Elgin was able to bring the score even at 20-20 but lost momentum and the first set 25-22.
Elgin stormed ahead midway through the second set to gain a four-point lead, but it all could have come crashing down as Elgin’s superstar leftside hitter Rowan Hartshorne went down with an ankle injury.
Despite the injury, Hartshorne caught fire after shaking it off and the Orcas won the second and third set 25-18, 25-21.
After moving courts, the next hour was filled with a ferocious back-and-forth struggle between the two teams, with Langley Christian pulling away late in the fourth set to win 25-23.
On the final play of the fourth set, Hartshorne hit the ground with his face while diving for a ball and, after receiving five stitches, summoned the courage to play through the pain, eventually making the winning kill (shot) “that left the gym in pandemonium.”
After 25 years, the win felt great, Jamieson said.
“It’s such a huge accomplishment. I couldn’t be more proud of these guys and all who came before them.”
Isaac Navarro was named All-Star Hartshorne was named MVP of the tournament.
“To be able to share this experience with the boys and call my old coaches to thank them for inspiring me to want to give back the way they gave to me is something I will never forget,” said Jamieson.