SOUTH SURREY â€“ The Earl Marriott Secondary senior boysâ€™ volleyball team dealt with copious amounts of pressure on Saturday (Nov. 15) en route to their AAA Fraser Valley championship win over local rivals Fraser Heights.
The Mariners, who currently hold the provincial title, hosted the tournament and with standing room only left in their gymnasium, the boys swept the Firehawks in three sets, 25-23, 25-19 and 25-15.
This was the groupâ€™s sixth straight appearance at a Fraser Valley Championships final, but only their second victory.
During the season and local tournaments, Fraser Heights got the better of Earl Marriott winning all four previous meetings and finishing the regular season with a perfect 8-0 record.
Mariners coach Bob Smith said this was the right game to win.
â€œTo have this as a way to cap off their high school careers was special for them,â€ he said.
The rivalry between the passionate volleyballers soon became evident when the referee warned a player from each team about unsportsmanlike conduct for taunting.
Firehawks coach James Ahn said his team simply wasnâ€™t mentally prepared for the game and was outplayed by Earl Marriott.
â€œWe just werenâ€™t mentally ready to battle. They outblocked us. They won those key battles and we werenâ€™t ready to do all the dirty stuff to win those tight games,â€ Ahn said.
Following the defeat, he told his players to think about where they can improve and to be prepared for the provincial championships, which start on Nov. 26 at Langley Events Centre.
However, the biggest shock of the tournament was Johnston Heights Secondary’s team, which flew from last to fourth place.
The Eagles werenâ€™t thought to be a contender after finishing with one of the worst regular-season records in the zone at 1-7.
Eric Rossiter, Johnston Heightsâ€™ coach, said the team had two days to prepare for the season due to the BCTF strike, which put them to a slow start compared to teams whose players play club volleyball year round.
He added that the Eagles had an option to play Tier 2, but thought that his team was stronger than that.
Overall, the coach was extremely proud of his team considering they werenâ€™t ranked as one of the top 15 teams in B.C.
â€œWe (qualified) for provincials, we (played) a championship game in the zones,â€ Rossiter said.
The Seaquam Seahawks also qualified for the provincial championships finishing in the top six.
Earl Marriottâ€™s Justin Faester was named Most Valuable Player for tournament with all-star nods going to Eric Lee (Earl Marriott), Evan Bell-Foley (Earl Marriott), Dai Chi Keber (Fraser Heights) and Perry Ni (Fraser Heights).
AAAA Senior Girls
Despite four Surrey high school senior girlâ€™s volleyball teams finishing in the top five at the AAAA Senior Girlsâ€™ Volleyball Fraser Valley Championships, none brought home a banner.
Riverside Secondary of Port Coquitlam defeated Lord Tweedsmuir 26-24, 25-11 and 25-19 in Fridayâ€™s (Nov. 14) final to defeat the Panthers in straight sets.
Autumn Davidson led the Cloverdale team with nine kills and six blocks while teammate Claudia Corneil racked up six kills and six digs. Both girls were named tournament all-stars.
Tweedsmuir coach Sara Corneil said even though they lost, she was proud of the team.
â€œIt doesnâ€™t matter how many points weâ€™re down by, they just keep fighting for every point they can get,â€ she said.
The Panthers finished the regular season 7-0, losing only two of 23 sets.
â€œOverall for us I think it was a great tournament. Itâ€™s been a great season,â€ she added.
Earl Marriott, who hosted the tournament, defeated Elgin Park 25-22, 25-15 and 25-17 in the bronze-medal game.
Mark Cassell, coach of the Earl Marriott Mariners, said his girls played their most complete game on Friday night.
â€œThey were blocking really well. They were shutting them down right at the net,â€ Cassell said.
Elgin coach Cathy MacDonald said the team was four players short in Orcasâ€™ last match due to players having other commitments.
â€œSometimes when you have that extra bit of energy from the bench, it makes a huge difference,â€ said MacDonald.
The Mariners finished the regular season 6-1, only losing to Lord Tweedsmuir, while the Orcas went 5-2.
The Panthers, Mariners and Orcas all qualify for the provincial championships along with North Surrey who finished sixth at the tournament.
Earl Marriottâ€™s Angelica Kilbert joined Davidson and Claudia Corneil as a tournament all-star.
Kilbert signed a letter of intent to attend and play for the University of Manitoba next season.
The senior girlsâ€™ provincial championships take place in Cranbrook and starts on Nov. 27.