Lakers rule provincial court
The last public school to claim the B.C. Senior AA Girls Volleyball title was the 2003 Kalamalka Lakers coached by Maria Hansen.
With history and a pro-Kal crowd on their side, the No. 5-ranked Lakers won another provincial championship Saturday in Nanaimo, stopping the Pacific Academy Breakers of Surrey 3-1 (25-19, 25-19, 26-28. 25-23) in the final.
Jeff Huggins, the school vice-principal who stepped in to coach the Lakers for Hansen this year, loved his team’s compete level despite being underdogs in some matches.
“These girls were so focused during the tournament and put everything on the line,” said Huggins. “They defeated the No. 2 Surrey Christian, No. 3 Langley Fundamental, No. 4 Pacific Academy and No. 6 College Heights to win the championship.”
Kalamalka started the final with a kill from tournament MVP Daralyn Schepp and the Lakers started to roll. They attacked and controlled the first set while the Breakers appeared to be the nervous bunch.
The Lakers controlled the first two sets with strong serving and passing.
“The girls were ready to play and exuded confidence,” said Huggins. “We had a balanced attack with hitting from Kaelyn Parmelee, Vicki Schley and Toni Vandenbrink.
“Megan Squair was a phenomenal setter throughout the tournament as she directed the attack. Her on-court presence and game management helped her teammates shine.
“Sam Bienias provided great back-row play, passing several tough serves and would-be kills. Each time Daralyn Schepp was set up, back row or front row, the crowd would erupt as the Breakers had trouble passing her attacks.”
The third set was a battle of huge kills and incredible digs. Not more than three points separated the teams and Pacific Academy refused to surrender.
Parmelee’s leadership steadied Kal and she made several critical passes, serves and kills throughout the match. Down in the fourth set, Emily Thorlakson put up a couple of big blocks and killed another to help the Lakers climb out of an early deficit.
“All-around hustle and determination embodies Vicki Schley,” said Huggins. “Her serving was critical and she made numerous digs and pounded several line shots.”
In a desperate situation, the Lakers were down 22-19 in the fourth set. After the timeout, Kal earned the next point and Schley started serving and put the Lakers ahead. Schepp sealed the title as her serve was poorly received and it touched the gym’s ceiling.
“Alexa Tymkiw, Jordan Korol, Ann Stewart and Kaely Johnson provided the team with additional support throughout the tournament,” noted Huggins.
In the earlier semifinals, Kal brushed back Surrey Christian 3-1 (23-25, 25-19, 25-19, 25-23).
The top-ranked Elphinstone Cougars of Gibsons took the bronze medal by sweeping Surrey Christian. There was a field of 16 with St. Patrick’s Celtics of Vancouver chosen Most Sportsmanlike Team.
Vandenbrink (first team) and Parmelee (second) made the all-star teams.
Meanwhile, the VSS Panthers finished fourth as projected at the B.C. Senior AAA Girls Volleyball Championships at Little Flower Academy and Crofton House in Vancouver.
Ranked fourth going into the Sweet 16, Keith Becker’s crew made the semifinals Saturday morning against the No. 1 Seaquam Seahawks of Delta. The Seahawks prevailed 3-0 (25-15, 25-13, 25-9.
The Nanaimo Islanders then turned back the Panthers 2-1 (25-22, 22-25, 15-8) in the bronze-medal match Saturday night.
The Little Flower Angels stopped Seaquam for the gold medal.
“The girls all played great, and it took the whole team to maintain fourth place,” said Becker, assisted by Chris August.
Avery Bridge of the Cats was a first team all-star, while Searra Becker earned a second-team spot.
The rest of the Panthers: Kelsey Tkachuk, Maddy Sawka, Danika Damini, Quinsy Leier, Ashtyn McKenzie, Joelle Wassing, Shanaya Pol, Sage Blundell, Mary Rice, Karly Fugel and Hannah Nesbitt.
The Vernon Christian Royals grounded the Sparwood Spartans 2-0 (25-19, 25-22) Saturday to place fifth at the B.C. Senior A Boys Championships at UBC Okanagan.
The Kelowna Christian Knights won the 12-team tourney.
Travis Hoogland of Vernon was named to the second all-star team, while teammate Sam Koch was an honourable mention.