Bulldogs senior girls take long road to B.C.s

Belmont takes bronze at Island AAAA tournament, plays wild card event this weekend in Port Coquitlam

Belmont Bulldogs coach Mike Toakley is hoping a little adversity makes his senior girls volleyball team stronger.

The Bulldogs, who dominated much of the early part of this season, will have to finish top two in a wild card tournament this Saturday in Port Coquitlam to qualify for provincials, after taking third at last weekend’s Island AAAA championship at Mount Doug.

The host team won the tournament with a 3-0 match win over Oak Bay, after coming from behind to beat Belmont for a third straight time, 3-2 (20-25, 25-22, 15-25, 25-20, 16-14) in front of a large, noisy crowd in Saturday’s semifinals.

“This is all good preparation for B.C.s and other types of play at the next level,” said Toakley, whose team beat  Nanaimo’s Dover Bay 3-0 for bronze to qualify for the eight-team wild card tournament. Both Island teams will be at Riverside secondary trying to earn one of two berths to provincials.

Toakley said he told his players after the semifinal loss, “‘We’ve got to turn around and start getting ready for B.C.s with this match.’ They represented the school well and took care of business by taking the bronze.”

Ravens boys miss B.C.s berth by slim margin

Meanwhile in Courtenay, the Royal Bay Ravens went to the wire with Lambrick Park in the AA Island senior boys bronze medal match, losing a fifth-set tiebreaker 15-12 Saturday. The loss ended the Ravens season, as only the top three teams advanced to the B.C. AA boys championships in Langley.

After finishing second in their pool and defeating Gulf Islands in straight sets in the Saturday morning quarter-final, Royal Bay lost the best-of-three semifinal 2-0 to eventual champion Pacific Christian.

“We had a great first day and the boys played really well overall,” said Ravens coach Kris Johnson. “It took the whole team to get where we’re at. They were all producing on the court, which is excellent.”

While there was disappointment over coming so close to a berth in the provincials, Johnson said she’s already excited about next season. All players are eligible to return except team leader Mitchell Whittla, a standout soccer goalkeeper who will attend UBC next fall and play for the Thunderbirds.