The Abby Christian Knights boys volleyball team cruised into last weekend’s Single-A provincial tournament as the top-ranked squad, while also enjoying the additional benefit of hosting the event in their home gym. Eight games later, the Knights earned their first ever provincial banner, walking over Centennial Christian 3-1 in the championship match.
It was a triumph for an Abby Christian Secondary (ACS) squad that only the week before dropped a disappointing five-set decision to Credo Christian in the Fraser Valley finals, and has had trouble pulling the trigger in major tournaments all season. This time, in front of a packed home crowd and playing in the most important game of the season, the Knights made no mistake.
“I think we’ve spent a lot of time over the last couple of weeks talking about what it takes to win,” said ACS coach Anthony Jansen. “This season it seems that we had the ability to play well, but there’s lots of stuff going on in [the players’] heads that prevents them from having the confidence to win and being confident that they’re going to win.”
The Knights were ranked first in the Single-A division all season, and finished second at provincials last year. Coach Anthony Jansen said it was deeply meaningful it was to his team to host this year’s tournament, especially because of the support of the ACS community in the crowd.
“I think it was unreal, there aren’t words to explain,” he said. “Even the opening ceremonies was pretty cool for the guys. They were quite emotional coming in, and before the final game too they were probably more nervous than they ever have been before a game, but they fought through it.”
Abby Christian’s Sam Goertzen was awarded Most Outstanding Player for the tournament. Aaron Postma picked up a first team all-star nod, while teammate Zack Maarhuis was named a second team all-star. The Knights’ Mark Olthuis rounded out the award total by claiming Most Outstanding Libero.
The Knights dropped only one set during the championship match, winning 25-14, 20-25, 25-16, 25-21. Postma had 13 kills during the four sets, while Maarhuis, James Janzen and Caleb Brandsma all had 11.
Jansen, who dropped down to coach the Knights’ junior team for a few years to prepare this team, says the squad is the deepest he’s coached in a long time. During the season he focused on building their “teamwork and volume” as a unit. “I think the best teams are often the loudest teams,” he said. “Everyone is in the game and everyone is cheering and excited and they can fight through adversity. It’s not always just skill, it’s about unity and how they support each other. I think that’s the character of the team this year.”