Cole Kitagawa

Cole Kitagawa

Vernon Christian Royals march to provincial semifinals

Vernon Christian Royals reach B.C. Senior A Boys Volleyball Championship semifinals for the first time in school history Friday.

The Vernon Christian Royals reached the B.C. Senior A Boys Volleyball Championship semifinals for the first time in school history Friday.

The Royal bounced the Bulkley Valley Christian Royals of Smithers 3-1 in quarterfinal action in Abbotsford. Chris Bannick’s boys came out strong in the first set, led by solid passing from Caleb Haberstock and Landon Matties, taking the set 25-17.

Bulkley Valley pushed back in set two, 25-21, but Vernon Christian came right back to win the third set 25-23 on aggressive serving by outside hitter Cole Kitagawa, who recorded two aces. Middle attack Tim Bartel was dominant at the net with a couple of big kills.

Bartel had 18 kills in the match, while Haberstock had 10 and Kitagawa with eight. Bartel also had four solo blocks.

“The team is coming together at the right time and playing extremely well as one cohesive unit,” said Bannick, whose No. 7-ranked Royals battled the Abbotsford Christian Knights in semifinal play Saturday.

Vernon went 1-2 in pool play, starting with a 2-0 loss (25-17, 25-22) to the Centennial Christian Seahawks of Terrace. They bounced back against the Ucluelet Warriors (25-20, 25-22) before falling 2-1 (26-24, 25-27, 5-15) to the No. 1 seed Abbotsford Christian Knights.

In Friday action, the Royals came out determined to make the playoffs, and defeated the Cedars Christian Eagles of Prince George (23-25, 26-24, 15-13) and the Carver Christian Phoenix of Burnaby (25-13, 25-21).

Tom Wolgram’s serving, including two aces, led Vernon Christian in a comeback against Cedars.

“In each match, the boys have continued to elevate their play,” said Bannick. “Setter Colton Doesburg has found his groove to lead a balanced attack, while middles Landon Matties and Jacob Molitwenik continue to press with solid blocking and kills.”

Meanwhile, in junior boys provincial action, the Fulton Maroons were left playing for ninth place.

Dan Currie’s Maroons finished second in their pool after going 2-1, starting with a sweep of the Kelowna Christian Knights (25-9, 25-21) and a three-set win over St. George’s Saints of Vancouver (25-15, 23-25, 15-6).

They finished preliminary play by falling to the Langley Fundamental Titans (15-25, 18-25), which set up an unfortunate crossover tilt Friday against the No. 1 seed Kelowna Owls, who won 25-15, 25-16. Fulton rebounded by stuffing the Pen-Hi Lakers in three sets (24-26, 25-21, 15-10).

The Maroons, who have just seven players, met the No. 2 seed Pacific Academy Breakers of Surrey Saturday.

The VSS Panthers went undefeated in claiming the North Zone Grade 8 girls championships at Shuswap Middle School in Salmon Arm.

The Panthers opened by rattling the Revelstoke  Rams 25-13, 25-14, followed with a 25-20, 25-18 sweep of the Maroons and a 25-20, 25-11 win over Salmon Arm.

“The girls played like champions,” said VSS coach Pam Condie. “Our serving was on fire. Alyssa Carter and Brienna Condie served up nine points in a row in separate matches. Alyssa took us to game point in the final match against Salmon Arm for the win.

“Jaide Vanderleest came in cold off the bench and served up a storm in our match against Fulton. Bree Vanderleest and Jordan Kaempf had some great hits at the net. Our setters Sarah Crerar, Mason Jurisson, Emilia Durfeld and Bree Vanderleest set up some amazing balls for our hitters.

“Kelsey Carriere, Maggie Vandeleest, Emily Sorochuk and Kelsey Falk played awesome defensively, digging and blocking up a storm. It was an all around team effort all season. These girls came determined to finish off the season with a win.”

The Panthers were sparked by a fantastic cheering section filled with family and friends with noisemakers and girls with pom-poms.