For Jordan Geransky, taking on the head coaching duties with the Mennonite Educational Institute senior boys volleyball team this fall has come with a rather unexpected medical crash course.
From the start of the season until just recently, the Eagles were missing multiple key players due to injury. No sooner would one return, than another would get dinged up – an epidemic of broken fingers, dislocated shoulders, back problems and rolled ankles, capped by a nasty flu bug which tore through the team a couple weeks back.
“Every practice, I’m hearing something new I need to learn, or seeing some new exercise a kid is doing for rehab,” Geransky said with a chuckle. “It’s definitely been enlightening.
“I’ve never seen anything like this before (injury-wise). It’s been a crazy season that way – a lot of adversity.”
MEI’s provincial ranking has fluctuated as a result – they’ve yo-yoed between No. 1 and No. 3 in the AA poll, currently occupying the third slot behind Langley Christian and Duchess Park of Prince George.
But just in the nick of time, the Eagles are suddenly looking hale and hardy. On Wednesday, they knocked off top-ranked Langley Christian in four sets (25-21, 20-25, 25-12, 25-18) in the Fraser Valley championship game. It was the first time all season their projected starting lineup has been together for a game.
Setter Caleb Konrad was tournament MVP, while left side Ben Lieuwen and libero Daniel Duncombe earned all-star nods.
“We were able to kind of fire on all cylinders for the first time, which is pretty exciting for us,” said Geransky, whose team had been 1-1 in league play against Langley Christian prior to Wednesday.
“We served the ball really aggressively, and our block had the opportunity to set up. We had a pretty good game plan, and our attackers finally found a rhythm, which has been our struggle all year. They were really efficient.”
The provincial championships run Nov. 28 to Dec. 1 at UBC-Okanagan in Kelowna, and MEI will be in the mix for the top seed, along with Duchess Park.
They’ll be well-positioned to extend a remarkable dynasty. Over the past 10 years, the Eagles boys have won eight AA provincial titles, and the only two seasons where they didn’t climb to the top step of the podium, they claimed silver (2004) and bronze (2010).
“It’s pretty exciting what we might be able to do at provincials,” Geransky said. “This group definitely has enough talent.”
EAGLES GIRLS WIN SILVER
The MEI senior girls also battled their way to their Fraser Valley title game, where they dropped a four-set decision to the Seaquam Seahawks of North Delta in the AAA final.
The Seahawks are the No. 1-ranked AAA team in the province and the defending B.C. champs, but the No. 6-ranked Eagles showed some spark in rallying from a 19-12 deficit to win the second set and tie the match. Seaquam closed things out by winning the next two sets, though.
“We started off shaky in the first set – I think we were getting some nerves out,” MEI coach Andrea McAllister analyzed. “But I think we showed it’s definitely not impossible to beat them. Since they’re the No. 1 team, I think it got our girls fired up.
“Overall, we showed a lot of character.”
Two MEI players cracked the tourney all-star team – setter Mikayla Marazzi and right side Tessa Ratzlaff.
The Eagles girls head to AAA provincials Nov. 28 to Dec. 1 at Croften House School and Little Flower Academy in Vancouver.
MEI HOSTS JUNIOR BOYS PROVINCIALS
The MEI junior boys volleyball team takes on some big-time hosting duties next week, as the Grade 10 provincial tourney takes over the Abbotsford school.
The tournament runs Nov. 22-24 at all four gyms on the MEI campus, culminating on Saturday with the bronze (12:45 p.m.) and gold (2 p.m.) medal games at the middle school.
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