Abbotsford’s Tradex building was the hub of B.C.’s volleyball scene on the weekend, as 137 teams and approximately 1,500 athletes converged in pursuit of a provincial club championship.
It was wall-to-wall volleyball at the local facility, with 19 courts hosting matches in the U14, U17 and U18 age groups.
When the dust had settled, two local teams had earned gold medals.
The Fraser Valley Volleyball Club’s Agoge U18 boys team made a dominant run through their draw, going undefeated without dropping so much as a single set along the way. They capped the tourney with a straight-sets win (25-20, 26-24) over the Victoria Volleyball Association.
The FVVC roster featured a trio of Abbotsford athletes – Yale Secondary’s Kristof Schlagintweit, and Jeremy Lieuwen and Caleb Konrad of Mennonite Educational Institute.
“We have a crazy team,” marveled Schlagintweit, who earned first team all-star honours while splitting his time between the setter and outside hitter positions. “All six of our starters are playing for Team B.C., and our average height is 6’5”.
“We thought we could do well (at provincials), and we were playing around with our identity. We’ve realized we’re a team that’s really good at blocking, so we can’t miss any serves.”
If the results in the U14 boys division are any indication, the future appears bright for perennial high school powerhouse MEI.
Altruista Black, a club helmed by Eagles Grade 8 coach Jeff Gamache, won the Tier 1 gold medal, knocking off the Focus Blazers in three sets (23-25, 25-12, 15-7) in the final. Altruista Silver, coached by Eagles junior bench boss Brad Knodel, won bronze in the Tier 2 draw.
Of the 25 athletes on the two Altruista teams, 22 attend MEI, which has won eight of the last 10 provincial AA senior boys titles.
“The group that’s in Grade 8 and 9 right now is probably the strongest group of volleyball players that we’ve ever had at the school,” said Gamache, whose club side didn’t lose a match all season. “It’s very exciting. They’re just awesome guys to work with.”
A fourth local team climbed the podium, as FVVC Blitz won bronze in the U18 girls draw, finishing behind the Thunder Storm of Vancouver (gold) and the Coquitlam Ducks (silver).
Other provincial champions included Air Attack Gold of Richmond (U17 girls), Seaside Surf of Surrey (U14 girls Division 1 Tier 1), Nanaimo Express Blue (U14 girls Division 1 Tier 2), Stars Red (U14 girls Division 2), and BCO Red of North Vancouver (U14 girls Division 3).
• Tradex plays host to another batch of club volleyball tournaments this weekend, as the U15 and U16 boys and girls provincials run Friday through Sunday. The event is expected to draw 128 teams. For schedules, visit volleyballbc.ca.