Belmont Bulldogs power Jessica Thompsen leaps high for a hit as a pair of Mount Douglas blockers rise to meet the attempt. The action came during the third-place match at the Island AAAA senior girls volleyball championships at Belmont. The visitors won the third-set tiebreaker to secure the final berth into the provincial championships

West Shore senior volleyball teams have bright future

News and notes from West Shore volleyball action

They would have preferred to end on a winning note, but the Belmont Bulldogs punched their ticket to the B.C. AAA senior boys volleyball championships with a fourth-place finish at the Island tournament. Despite losing 2-0 to eventual champion Dover Bay of Nanaimo in the semifinals then 2-0 to Reynolds in the bronze medal match Saturday at Oak Bay High, the Bulldogs qualified for the provincials. That event is scheduled for Dec. 2 to 5 in Langley and Belmont would go in ranked 18th. At press time, however, Belmont co-coach Kris Walushka was still looking into whether the team can afford to go away for four nights. Regardless, qualifying was a major coup for the Bulldogs, whose program was gutted when most of last year’s Grade 11 players shifted to Royal Bay. “It is a huge accomplishment to go from thinking we had no teams, to then having two teams (junior and senior), to then qualifying for provincials,” Walushka said. “Being so raw and inexperienced has made us have many ups and downs, and we have taken our lumps all year. But every week we improved different aspects of our game and a lot of it came together this weekend.” Avenging a loss to Claremont in the city tournament was particularly sweet for the team, he added, especially since it helped lead to a provincials berth. The Bulldogs split their matches against runner-up Oak Bay (2-0 loss) and Claremont (2-1 win) in pool play, then dispatched Spectrum 3-0 in the quarter-finals.

Ravens boys close, but miss B.C.s berth

At the senior boys AA Island tournament at Royal Bay, the host Ravens dropped a 3-0 decision (18-25, 18-25, 23-25) to Woodlands from Nanaimo in the bronze medal match Saturday. The match determined the final Island spot into the AA provincials, being held concurrently with the AAA event in Langley. While not gaining a spot in the B.C.s was disappointing, there were enough high points from the weekend to leave Ravens coach Kris Johnson with plenty of optimism. Winning their pool with a 3-0 match record was one, as was beating eventual runner-up Lambrick Park in round robin play. Combined with last weekend’s Island tournament win by the Ravens juniors (see page A20), Johnson said, “I’m very excited about the future of boys volleyball at Royal Bay.” The Ravens lost to eventual champion Pacific Christian School in the semifinals, while Woodlands were beat by Lambrick Park. beating Courtenay’s Mark Isfeld (25-21, 26-24), Lambrick (25-20, 18-25, 16-14) and Highland from Comox (25-15, 25-18). PCS gave the comeback performance of the tournament in Saturday’s final, a 3-2 win over Lambrick Park. PCS lost the first two sets, 21-25, 18-25, and were on the verge of a Lambrick sweep in the third, but came back to win 26-24, then won 25-20 and 15-11 to gain the Island No. 1 seed for the B.C.s.

Belmont senior girls show improvement

Over at Belmont, the host Bulldogs lost 2-1 (20-25, 25-18, 5-15) to Mount Douglas in Saturday’s senior girls AAAA Island tournament bronze medal match. A win would have given the locals the final Island berth into the provincials, but coach Mike Toakley wasn’t disappointed with his players’ efforts. “They saved their best for today, (Friday) they were OK, but today they were very good,” he said. “Unfortunately they had to play two really good teams, both ranked top 10 in the province. Taking a game off Mount Doug was great, getting a win over them would have been fabulous, but all in all I’m pleased with their performance today.” The Bulldogs finished second in their pool with straight-set wins over Cowichan and Claremont and a 2-0 loss (17-25, 14-25) to Mount Doug. They followed that up with a 25-13, 25-11 win over Spectrum to open the playoff round, then ran out of time in Saturday’s semifinals against eventual runner-up Dover Bay of Nanaimo, losing 12-25, 18-25, 23-25. “We were getting better and better as we went along,” Toakley said. “If we could have played the quality of opponents like that more consistently we could have had a better chance today.” Oak Bay beat Dover Bay in five sets in a see-saw final. Dover Bay hosts the provincials in two weekends, while Oak Bay secured the top Island seed and Mount Doug third for the tournament. Kendra Hobenschield from Belmont was among the tournament all-stars named following the final. Others included Lilly Mead (best libero) and Kyra Schroeder from Mt. Doug, Ava Parker from Oak Bay, and Hayley Goodwin and Amy Smith from Dover Bay. Oak Bay’s Thana Fayad was named tournament MVP.

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