Belmont leftside attacker Cassy Allen (in black) leaps for a hit against Reynolds in city league play earlier this season. Both teams head to the Island 4A championships this weekend at Oak Bay High. The finalists from that tournament qualify for the provincial championships.

Belmont girls seeking B.C.s volleyball berth

Island gains an extra qualifier for provincials this year

It really says something when a Belmont senior girls volleyball team plagued by injuries and forced to forfeit a couple matches in the city 4A playoffs is still ranked No. 10 in the province.

Coach Mike Toakley’s team hosts the final league play evening of the season tonight (Nov. 12, 6 p.m.) in preparation for this weekend’s Island championships at Oak Bay. Looking at how the girls’ season has shaped up, he said he’s never seen anything like it in 30-plus years of coaching.

To cover off for injured players over the past month or so, he’s recruited a couple of former junior girls players, including one who’s committed to ice hockey, and one of the stars off the current junior girls team – who later broke her wrist.

“I’ve never had a season like this, where a team has lost players and picked up players to salvage their season,” Toakley said. “I’m extremely proud of how the girls have adapted to the challenges as they’ve come up, one after the other, after the other.”

Tonight’s action offers a chance to see what works and what doesn’t in the makeshift lineup, he said. Looking ahead to Islands, making the final and claiming one of the two berths into the upcoming provincial 4A championships in Cranbrook will require firing on all cylinders against some tough teams.

With Greater Victoria teams the power on the Island this season, it may come down to who beats who between the top three of Oak Bay, Claremont and Belmont.

“We’ve split with Oak Bay this year, but we haven’t played them with our revamped lineup,” Toakley said. “It’s a real question mark whether this lineup is a better one than what we had before. It’ll be different, for sure.”

Belmont hasn’t lost to Claremont this season.

The Bulldogs’ transformation of necessity has seen established players moved into different roles and newcomers given responsibilities they’ve never had before.

Grade 12 setter Danielle Potier remains in her critical role. But fellow seniors Nicole Bracewell, formerly the team’s libero and sometime defensive specialist and now a rightside attacker; and Cassy Allen, a former middle blocker who has moved over to play leftside, are learning new positions. Less so for Jessica Thomsen, a former rightside who’s been shifted to the left.

Among the newcomers, hockey player Jessica Lusk was recommended to Toakley by Belmont athletic director Ken Lowe, who coached her in junior girls and was impressed by her athleticism. When she’s available, she’s lining up at middle, as is fellow recruit Monique Lutyk, another former Lowe junior who went into the Nov. 4 league night with one practice under her belt yet performed admirably as the Bulldogs won four straight games.

Rounding out the roster are front row players, Rebecca Birtwistle and Allegra Pala, who has been touch and go with a back injury of late.

Both finalists make the provincials, unlike last year when just one berth was automatic. Belmont lost the 2013 final to Vanier of Courtenay and was forced to play in a wild card tournament on the mainland, where it fell short by one spot again for a berth into the B.C. championships. No wild card tournament is being held this year.

editor@goldstreamgazette.com

Tourney time

• The Belmont Bulldogs senior girls volleyball team opens the Island 4A championships Friday at Oak Bay High with pool play matches against Cowichan (12:10 p.m.), Spectrum (3:40 p.m.) and Oak Bay (4:50 p.m.).

• The day’s results will  determine Saturday’s crossover round opponents. The two pool winners receive a bye to the semifinals at noon. The final and bronze medal matches happen at 3:30 p.m.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Break and enters have doubled this year in Victoria

VicPD is warning residents to take precautions after huge increase from 2019

‘It’s a boy’: Southern Resident killer whale calf born to J Pod is healthy, researchers say

J35 had previously done a ‘Tour of Grief,’ carrying her dead calf for 17 days

West Shore RCMP searching for missing Langford man

The 59-year-old man was last seen Aug. 23 and was reported missing to police Sept. 20

Saanich police searching for high-risk missing man

The 35-year-old was last seen at his Saanich residence on Sept. 15

After 53 years, Saanich Jr. B team rebrands as Predators

Saanich Predators Junior B hockey team navigates COVID, culture

Liberals vow wage-subsidy extension to 2021, revamp of EI system in throne speech

Canadian labour market was hammered by pandemic, when lockdowns in the spring led to a loss of 3 million jobs

Cops for Cancer: COVID-19 can’t stop Tour de Rock

‘having the chance to come back and ride this year means everything to me’

People ‘disgusted’ by COVID-19 election call, B.C. Liberal leader says

Andrew Wilkinson speaks to municipal leaders from Victoria

Horgan blasts B.C. Greens for refusing youth overdose detention

Lack of support key to B.C. election call, NDP leader says

Canada’s active COVID-19 cases top 10,000 as daily new cases triple over the past month

Dr. Tam repeated her warning to young people, who have made up the majority of recent cases

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Sept. 22

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS

Grand jury indicts police officer in Breonna Taylor death

Officer Brett Hankison was charged with three counts of wanton endangerment

Most Read