There was one title still to be won at the aging Panther Pit before an upcoming demolition.
The VSS Panthers made history of sorts by earning the last Okanagan Valley championship in the old East Hill gym Saturday.
Keith Becker’s Cats brushed back the Fulton Maroons 3-1 (25-20, 25-21, 21-25, 25-16) in Saturday’s final of the six-team playdowns.
The Panthers will play in the B.C. Senior AAA Girls Volleyball Championships, Nov. 28-Dec. 1 at Crofton House and Little Flower Academy in Vancouver.
Some sweet setting from Mary Rice and Hannah Nesbitt pushed the Panthers past Fulton in a tough opening set. VSS then parlayed some solid hitting from outside hitters Searra Becker and Danika Damini in set two glory.
Fulton’s strong, scrappy defence and lightning quick attacks from captain Hanna Ouchi and big back-row hits from power Jackie Banks gave the Maroons the third set.
The Panthers were very strong in set four, and with some brilliant blocking from right side Sage Blundell and Shayne Pol, stopped the big smashes from the Maroons’ outside hitters.
“It was not our sharpest performance as a team versus VSS,” said Fulton coach Sharon Shaigec. “We struggled at the service line and our very average team serve receive made it tough for veteran Fulton setter Danielle Olson to run our attack. Great crowd support on both sides of the gym, though.”
Local all-stars were Ouchi and Nesbitt, while tourney MVP was Avery Bridge of VSS.
“The girls all played very well this weekend,” said Becker. “The girls have had a great season this year, and have consistently been the highest-placing AAA team in every tournament they have played in, and are currently going into provincials ranked fourth.”
VSS opened play Saturday by sweeping the Pleasant Valley Saints of Armstrong 25-7, 25-11 and dispatching the Seaton Sonics 25-10, 25-8 before stuffing the Kamloops Saints 2-0 in the semifinals.
Fulton iced the NorKam Saints 25-20, 25-18 and grounded the Okanagan Mission Huskies in pool play before sweeping Seaton 25-16, 25-17 in the semis.
The Maroons will now play in a three-team wildcard playoff Saturday at their home gym to play for a second provincial berth.
Fulton takes on the Rick Hansen Hurricanes of Abbotsford at 10 a.m. with the Canes meeting the Sentinel Wildcats of Slocan at 11:30 a.m. The Maroons and Sentinel battle in the 1 p.m. match.
The Kalamalka Lakers brushed off the Sa-Hali Sabres 3-0 (25-23, 25-15, 26-24) in Saturday’s thrilling final of the Valley Senior AA Girls playdowns in Kamloops.
Kaelyn Johnson kept the Lakers in the match with several blocks and hits. The first set saw the Lakers build a five-point lead before the Sabres levelled the set at 23-23. Daralyn Schepp, who had several mammoth kills all weekend, crushed one crosscourt to help win the first set.
The second set was all about Laker hustle with Vicki Schley diving all over the floor picking up balls that seemed impossible to retrieve. She also pounded some nice line shots. Johnson played a strong set passing in the back row.
In the final set, Sam Bienias found her passing groove to set up a potent attack from Kaelyn Parmelee. Johnson, Emily Thorlakson and Ann Stewart made several blocks slowing down the Sabres offence. Megan Squair did a fantastic job at distributing the ball to the right people at the right time. She even had a timely block. Schepp came up huge at 24-24 when she killed a line shot.
“The Lakers put together their best volleyball of the year with great focus and determination,” said coach Jeff Huggins.
Royals advance to provincial A tourney
Meanwhile, the Vernon Christian Royals lost in straight sets (25-17, 25-11, 25-16) to Kelowna Christian Knights at the Valley Senior A Boys championships.
In pool play, the Royals swept the host Clearwater Raiders 25-17, 25-18, before losing to the Knights 25-18 and 25-17 before icing the Chase Trojans 25-11, 25-16.
The Royals came out with aggressive serving and solid passing to defeat the Raiders 25-18, 25-16 in the semifinals.
Outside hitter Ryan Price counted four service aces in the opening set, while middle Travis Hoogland dominated the net in the second set with four kills and three blocks.
Zac Dubland and Sam Koch shared setter and right side attack duties all weekend and played solid, allowing outside hitters Price and Reuben Smid do the damage. Middle Adam Ensing racked up three solo blocks against the Raiders and Trojans in the round-robin, while Dubland had seven service aces on the weekend. Koch finished the tourney with 21 kills before bowing out in the final with an ankle injury. Hoogland supplied 25 kills
Coaches Chris Bannick and Dwayne Remple were very proud of the “heart and determination” displayed by all the Royals.
The Royals are ranked seventh going into the B.C. playdowns this weekend in Kelowna.
The Vernon Christian Royals took fourth place at the Okanagan Valley Senior A Girls Volleyball Championships Saturday in Enderby.
The Royals finished third in pool play and then crossed over and outlasted the St. Ann’s Crusaders of Kamloops 2-0 (26-24, 25-17) in the quarterfinals.
“We knew that we had to win this match to earn at least a half berth to provincials,” said Vernon coach Jason Reedyk. “The girls rose to the occasion and played some of their best volleyball of the season.”
The Royals played a spirited semifinal match against Kelowna Christian, but fell 25-10, 25-10, 25-4. Vernon Christian then battled fatigue in losing 25-11, 25-5 to Keremeos in the bronze-medal match.
The Royals now travel to Fernie on Saturday for a B.C. challenge match.