Bronze wasn’t the medal the Mennonite Educational Institute senior boys volleyball team was dreaming of, but they nevertheless extended a remarkable run of success at the AA high school provincials in Kelowna on the weekend.
After having their championship hopes derailed in a four-set loss to Duchess Park of Prince George in the semifinals, the Eagles clawed their way to a thrilling five-set triumph (16-25, 25-17, 25-14, 23-25, 15-10) over Okanagan Mission in the third-place game.
The win extended MEI’s remarkable run of provincial podium finishes to 11. They’ve won eight AA titles, one silver (2004) and two bronze (2010 and 2012) in that span.
“I thought we had a really good tournament,” said Eagles head coach Jordan Geransky, whose team won the Fraser Valley title and was seeded No. 1 going into provincials. “We were a little unfortunate in the semifinals – we didn’t have our best match, and we faced a team that was peaking.
“But overall, we showed a lot of heart.”
Geransky was most impressed with his team’s ability to regroup mentally from a disappointing semifinal loss.
“The character that was shown after the game . . . was pretty special to see, and we took very seriously the opportunity to get on the podium,” he said. “Everyone just focused on honouring our seniors, the guys who won’t wear the jersey again.
“It was pretty awesome to see the leadership take over.”
MEI setter Caleb Konrad and left side Ben Lieuwen were first team all-stars, while right side Jordan Schmidt and left side Jordan Loewen were honourable mention.
MEI GIRLS FALL TO EVENTUAL CHAMPS, FINISH FIFTH
The MEI senior girls team had a terrific fifth-place showing at AAA provincials in Vancouver, and if a couple more points had gone their way, they could have easily been on the podium as well.
The Eagles finished second in their pool and won their playoff opener against Crofton House, before running into tournament host Little Flower Academy in the quarter-finals. MEI ended up falling in a five-set epic (15-13 in the fifth set), and LFA went on to win the gold medal.
“It was a bit of a heartbreaker, but we played so well,” Eagles coach Andrea McAllister said. “It was one of the best games we’ve played all year.
“To see them (LFA) win was kind of encouraging for the girls, because it showed we were right there with them. It just came down to a couple points.”
The Eagles regrouped and beat Point Grey and Timberline to finish fifth. Among the standouts were setter Mikayla Marazzi and libero Steph Braaksma.