The next generation of Canadian volleyball stars was on display in Abbotsford on the weekend, as the city played host to the Canadian Open U17-U18 Championships.
The numbers associated with the tournament were simply staggering.
The event brought together 227 teams from coast to coast, and approximately 4,000 athletes, coaches and staff. The tourney utilized 31 courts at six different venues around the city, with Tradex serving as the nerve centre. It was wall-to-wall volleyball at the exhibition centre, with 19 courts running simultaneously.
Abbotsford native Tyler Koslowsky, who played for the Fraser Valley Volleyball Club (FVVC) U18 Blue squad, marveled at the atmosphere.
“I’ve never been to a nationals before, and it’s sweet that it was at home,” he enthused.
FVVC teams climb podium
Local teams acquitted themselves well, producing a series of solid results.
The FVVC, a regional program linked to Trinity Western University, saw a trio of teams go on deep runs.
The FVVC Blue under-17 boys team won bronze in the Tier 1 draw, defeating 204 Volleyball Club of Winnipeg in a three-set thriller (25-15, 23-25, 15-9). The team featured a quartet of Abbotsford athletes – Jeremy Lieuwen, Angelo Alvarado and Zach Funk of Mennonite Educational Institute, and Kristof Schlagintweit of Yale Secondary.
The FVVC Blue U18 boys fell just short of the Tier 1 podium, dropping a straight-sets decision to Northern Alberta Volleyball Club of Edmonton in the third-place game (25-22, 25-20). MEI’s Koslowsky, Connor Nickel and Dillon Peters (pictured left) were part of that team.
The FVVC Blitz, featuring Yale setter Emilia Amiama, won the U17 girls Div. 1 Tier 2 final, beating a team from Lac-Megantic, Que. in two sets (26-24, 25-23).
Abbotsford’s Columbia Volleyball Club Airwalkers made a run to the Div. 1, Tier 2 semifinals, where they fell to the NAVC Gold Pandas. Local players on the squad include MEI’s Sadie Ball, Jill Ratzlaff, Jessica Braaksma and Sharaya Schulte, and Mouat’s Reena Randhawa.
Ontario teams dominate
In the big picture, it was a weekend to remember for Ontario clubs, as the province accounted for five of the six Tier 1 gold medals.
National champs from Ontario included the Pakmen of Brampton (U17 boys), DRVC of Whitby (U17 girls Div. 2), Crush of Toronto (U18 boys), Defensa of Burlington (U18 girls Div. 1) and the Shotguns of Ottawa (U18 girls Div. 2).
The Calgary Dinos 17 were the lone club to break through the Ontario dominance, as they won the U17 girls Div. 1 title.