by Dan Kinvig
The Final Four is set at the BC Summer Games girls volleyball tournament.
The Fraser Valley and Fraser River squads advanced to the medal round with decisive victories in quarter-final action on Saturday morning at the Envision Athletic Centre on the University of the Fraser Valley’s Abbotsford campus.
They join Vancouver-Coastal and Vancouver Island-Central Coast, who won their first playoff match-ups earlier, in the semis.
The host Fraser Valley side defeated Cariboo-North East in two sets, with the matching scores (25-12, 25-12) reflecting the steady play of the victors. Head coach Duncan Harrison felt it was a strong performance from his entire squad, with Grace McGillvray, Lizaan Steenkamp and Felicia Tejszerski among the catalysts.
“You couldn’t ask for a better first match of the day,” Harrison said. “I think our consistency of play was great. That’s one of the things we tried to talk about yesterday with the girls – getting steadier, not living on that roller-coaster where you have three or four good points and then three or four bad points. I thought our team played really, really strong that way.
“I was really proud of how both lines played very steady. You switch that lineup in the second set in fair play (format), and sometimes that can be a bit of an adventure. I thought the second group that went on the floor picked it up right where the first group left off and carried it right through.”
Fraser River, in similar fashion, dominated their quarter-final against North West, prevailing 25-13 and 25-14.
Head coach Bob Smith said that his team has distinguished itself through strong defence. The likes of Lauren Boddington, Delany Scholz and Rachel Smith have been digging machines in the back row, setting the table for setters Faith Singleton and Hannah Weger to run the offence efficiently.
“We’re picking up all the free balls, and that’s allowing us to successful in the front row,” Smith noted. “This is the first team I’ve coached where I’ve had an exceptional group of defensive-minded players. I’ve had lots of teams where I’ve had strong offensive players, but having some girls from different clubs have brought a different calibre to the defensive part of the game, and it’s been really good.
“All of our girls have been playing well. It’s been a fun tournament so far, really well-organized, and a beautiful facility.”
The semifinals are set for 12:30 p.m. at UFV, and will feature the Fraser Valley vs. Vancouver Island-Central Coast (Court 3) and Fraser River vs. Vancouver-Coastal (Court 4). Back-side games to decide fifth through eighth place run at 11:20 a.m. and 1:40 p.m.
Sunday’s boys and girls volleyball medal games will all be at UFV, with the bronze matches running simultaneously at 8:30 a.m. and the gold matches at 9:45 a.m. The boys will be on Court 3, and the girls on Court 4.