Royal Bay Secondary school’s senior boys AAA volleyball team are one of 20 teams to qualify for the senior boys provincial championships this year. (Contributed photo)

Royal Bay Secondary school’s senior boys AAA volleyball team are one of 20 teams to qualify for the senior boys provincial championships this year. (Contributed photo)

Royal Bay senior boys punch ticket to volleyball provincials

Third place finish at Islands means local boys hit the court this week in Langley

A third place finish was good enough to punch a ticket to the big show.

Royal Bay Secondary ’s senior boys AAA volleyball team is one of 20 teams to qualify for the senior boys provincial championships this year. The Ravens earned their way to the provincial tournament by defeating the Claremont Spartans in three straight sets at a qualifying tournament on Nov. 17 to 18 at Oak Bay Secondary school. That was good enough for third place on Vancouver Island and a trip to Langley for the main event, explained coach Dante Diponio.

“We set our goal at the start of the year on making the Island finals but fell a little short,” said Diponio, who shares head coaching duties with Kris Johnson, a teacher and coach of the volleyball teams at Dunsmuir Middle school.

Diponio said the team had to play some games without their setter, Nolan Thoroughogood, because of scheduling conflicts arising from his participation on Team Canada’s high school golf team. Thoroughogood, a Grade 12 student, has accepted a scholarship to attend Oregon State University starting next year.

“We had to use players in different roles because of the games Nolan missed,” he explained. “Bryden Mandy had to step in as setter when Nolan was away. Bryden’s also our best attacker, but he sacrificed playing in his usual position to help the team.”

The Ravens played three games Wednesday against teams ranked ninth to 12th to open the tournament, which runs until Saturday in Langley.

The tournament consists of five power pools of four teams playing in an initial round robin. Winners of pools will move up to a higher group while last-place teams will move down a group., and then be ranked one through 16 for sorting into the playoffs. Royal Bay, ranked 12th, opens with games against Argyle, Kelowna and Elgin Park.

“We’ve been told we’re in a good pool and have a good chance of advancing,” said Diponio, who teaches English and physical education and also coaches track and field.

“That should give us a good indication of our chances of advancing. We fell short of the provincials by one place last year, so this is a big deal for the players.”

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