by Dan Kinvig
The Vancouver-Coastal and Vancouver Island-Central Coast girls volleyball teams punched their tickets to the medal round as the BC Summer Games playoffs opened at UFV’s Envision Athletic Centre on Saturday morning.
Vancouver-Coastal, seeded third in Group D after Friday’s pool play, pulled off a modest upset, knocking off Group C second-seeded Thompson-Okanagan in two tight sets.
The Vancouver squad finished the first set strong to prevail 25-21, and appeared to be in full control in the second, racing out to an early 11-6 lead. Thompson-Okanagan, though, clawed all the way back to knot the score 20-20. Still tied at 22-22, a contacting-the-net call against Thompson-Okanagan nullified an apparent stuff block and swung the momentum Vancouver-Coastal’s way. They scored the next two points to close out the match 25-22.
Vancouver-Coastal coach Marcelo Paz noted that his team had some struggles en route to a 1-2 record during Friday’s pool play, but felt that their response to that adversity laid the foundation for their success in the quarter-finals.
“Actually, yesterday was a great experience,” he said. “We had some struggles, but I think that brought the team closer together and made us strong today. The players said, today it’s 100 per cent effort, and no ball on the floor (on defence).”
Saturday’s other early quarter-final wasn’t as dramatic, as Vancouver Island-Central Coast made short work of the Kootenays in two decisive sets (25-11, 25-13).
“It’s a 9 a.m. game, so energy’s always going to win it, especially in girls volleyball,” Vancouver Island coach Jordan Church said. “We had great preparation – the girls were real serious about it last night with good hydration and sleeping well, and really came in fired up and had fun doing it.
“There wasn’t really one person (who led us) – it was our full units, which is what you want as a coach. Our serve-receive was excellent, our defence was superb, and our setters kept everybody calm. Our offence was nice and physical, and it was good to see.”
The second batch of quarter-finals at UFV on Saturday morning features the Fraser Valley vs. Cariboo-North East (Court 3) and Fraser River vs. North West (Court 4).