If this year’s numbers are any indication, Belmont secondary’s girls volleyball program should be healthy for years to come.
The influx of 300 Grade 9 students with the reconfiguration of middle schools in the Sooke district, and the return of some West Shore youth to the new school – with it’s massive new gym – has brought junior girls (Grade 9 and 10) head coach Ken Lowe some new talent and allowed him to create two healthy squads of 11 each.
“We’ve really seen our numbers go up,” said Lowe, whose gym plays host to a 16-team junior girls tournament today (Oct. 16) and tomorrow. “Really, the Grade 9s are the ones who are keen about it … They’re going to take their lumps, but it’s part of the learning experience,” he said of the younger team.
The developing novice players from Spencer middle school and John Stubbs have no doubt brought enthusiasm to the program.
But the impressive group here is Belmont Blue, stocked with experienced players. Lowe has eight grade 10 and three grade 9 players on the squad, each of whom has three or four years’ competition under their belt. Most of them played together at Spencer and many have enjoyed success in club and/or beach, volleyball.
They’ve yet to lose in league play and have done quite well against senior teams this season.
“It’s a matter of keeping them motivated and finding them tournaments,” Lowe said.
The coach prefers not to blow their horn too much however, and stopped short of singling out any of his players. To that end, he hasn’t named a team captain. “I see myself as the captain and I have 11 assistants,” he said, adding, “they all have their leadership qualities, their own unique skills.”
Belmont Blue warmed up for the tournament with a league play day at Royal Bay on Wednesday (after the Gazette’s print deadline), while Belmont White was over at Spectrum.
Action today gets underway at 11:30 a.m., with Belmont Blue facing Royal Bay in a Pool A round robin match expected to be viewed by hundreds of students on their lunch hour. The final matches of the day are at 7:05 p.m.
Playoffs get underway Saturday at 8:30 a.m., with the top two finishers from each of four pools advancing to the championships side of the draw and the rest playing in the consolation draw. The championship final goes at 4:40 p.m.
The season of tournament and league play winds up with Belmont hosting the city championships Nov. 13 and 14. The top three make it to the Islands at Brentwood College the following weekend.
In junior play the provincial championships are invitational, and Lowe said usually the top four from the Island will get the nod. Barring an upset along the way, look for this Belmont squad to be in the thick of things come late November.