The hallways of Belmont secondary will be slightly less crowded next week, with members of the senior boys and girls volleyball teams competing at their respective B.C. high school championships.
The Bulldogs girls punched their ticket to Cranbrook for the AAAA tournament by reaching the final of the Island tournament Saturday at Oak Bay against the host Breakers. The best-of-five match, won 3-1 by Oak Bay, was the latest in the teams’ continuing rivalry, and came after Belmont won their head-to-head preliminary round match two straight games.
The Bulldogs rolled through their pool with three straight match wins then downed an improved Stelly’s team 3-1 in the best-of-five semifinals. The Breakers had more left in the tank by the end of Saturday’s play, Belmont head coach Mike Toakley said.
“It was a case of Oak Bay taking their game to a higher level against an exhausted group,” he said, noting his team has been short players due to various injuries.
One bonus was having Allegra Pala, who has been suffering from back pain, play the entire tournament in the front row for the Bulldogs. Her presence gave Toakley more flexibility in making up the lineup, he said, and allowed him to move right side Nicole Bracewell back to the libero position on defence.
Belmont also downed Spectrum and Cowichan in pool play to set up the semifinal match against the Stingers, who placed second in the opposite pool behind Oak Bay. The Breakers went on to beat Claremont 3-0 in the other semifinal.
The yeoman’s work of four Belmont players drew the attention of the people picking tournament all-stars. Setter Danielle Potier and power hitter Cassy Allen were named to the first team, while Bracewell and power hitter Jessica Thomsen made the second team.
Toakley said reaching the provincials was a major objective for his squad, which was bumped off the B.C. rankings list last week by Oak Bay. The Breakers took over at No. 10 and was expected to stay there this week.
“The goal was just to get there and to have that done, it’s all gravy from here,” the coach said of the B.C championship tournament. “It’s a neat opportunity that I’m glad they’re going to have a chance to experience.”
With the extra week of rest leading up to the provincials, the Bulldogs will be up to nine players in Cranbrook, which leaves Toakley more enthusiastic about his team’s chances to do well. Power hitter Kendra Hobenshield has been greenlighted for the provincials after rehabbing from a knee injury.
The provincial championships run Nov. 27 to 29 at Mount Baker secondary.
Belmont boys win key matches in Nanaimo
Despite winding up the Island AAA boys tournament with losses in the semifinal and bronze-medal matches, earlier wins over two Greater Victoria rivals allowed the Bulldogs to qualify for the upcoming B.C. AAA high school boys championships in Langley.
The Bulldogs split their pool matches, losing to host Dover Bay and gaining a measure of revenge by beating Reynolds, who knocked the Bulldogs out of contention for the Judy Bourne Cup citywide final four two weeks ago.
That placed the Bulldogs into the quarter-finals against Claremont. Belmont won there to assure themselves one of the four Island berths into the provincials. The Bulldogs went on to lose the semifinal to Dover Bay and the third-fourth game to Vanier from Courtenay.
Middle blocker Jakob Purdy of Belmont was selected to the all-star team.
The AAA high school boys championships run Nov. 26 to 29 at the Langley Events Centre.