The West Shore’s two sparkling new high school gymnasiums will be graced with a new banner, after the Belmont junior girls and Royal Bay junior boys won their respective Island volleyball championships.
The Bulldogs girls continued their domination on the Island scene, beating Campbell River’s Carihi 25-14, 25-15 in Saturday’s girls final at Brentwood College in Mill Bay.
The win, which confirmed a spot in this week’s provincial championships in Delta, capped an undefeated weekend for the Belmont side and followed a 2-0 win over Courtenay’s Mark Isfeld in the semifinals earlier that day.
“They were a tough-serving team, a very defensive-oriented team,” Belmont coach Ken Lowe said of Carihi, who won a slim three-set semifinal victory over crosstown rival Timberline to secure the other Island berth into the B.C.s. “There were rallies that were not just one and done, (we) were rallying for those points.”
Belmont won their pool with a 6-0 record, beating Gulf Islands, Brentwood College and Timberline, who gave the Bulldogs their closest game, a 25-22 second-set win.
Looking ahead to the 32-team provincial tournament, hosted by Seaquam, South Delta and North Delta secondaries, Belmont goes in relatively blind, Lowe said. Its pool includes Surrey’s Lord Tweedsmuir, Kelly Road in Prince George and Kamloops’ Valleyview.
“They say juniors is the hardest thing to win, because there’s no tiering,” Lowe said. Without teams being slotted into power pools based on pre-tournament rankings, luck of the draw is a factor.
The top two teams in each pool advance to the championship draw, which is a single-knockout situation. “If we can sneak out with a banner that’d be great, but if we don’t it’s not going to define our season,” Lowe said.
His players, many of whom have played in the provincial club volleyball championships, are excited and prepared for their next challenge, he said. “They’re happy and optimistic they can have a good showing at provincials.”
Meanwhile, the Royal Bay Ravens junior boys booked their spot in this week’s 24-team provincials in Kelowna with a thrilling come-from-behind win over Claremont in the Island final on the Spartans’ home court on Saturday.
The Ravens, who won the opening set 25-20 then lost 26-24, erased a 6-1 deficit in the tiebreaker to win 16-14.
Winning the Island crown was a measure of redemption for the Ravens, who lost the city final to Oak Bay, but beat them 2-1 (23-25, 25-20, 15-12) in the Island semifinals.
“Our team played with heart and determination,” said Ravens co-coach Dian McKinnon.
The Ravens finished second in their pool, then beat Campbell River Carihi 25-17, 25-15 in the quarter-finals.
Royal Bay opens round robin pool play at the B.C.s tomorrow (Nov. 26) against David Thompson from Vancouver. They follow later Thursday with matches against tournament co-host Const. Neil Bruce middle school and Abbotsford Christian. The crossover playoff round gets underway Friday, with the medal round set for Saturday.