The Vernon Panthers missed their first chance to qualify for the B.C. Senior Girls AAA Volleyball finals this week in Langley.
They didn’t miss on their second chance.
The Panthers went undefeated in a nine-team play-in tournament in Kamloops Saturday and claimed one of three wild card entries to the provincial finals which start Thursday in Langley.
“Oh yes, it’s great to have a second opportunity,” said Vernon co-coach Aaron Robinson, joined on the bench by his wife, Gloria. “Our kids have worked very hard. We went through a mid-season slump but things are on the way up again.”
Vernon finished first in its three-team pool, sweeping the Windsor Dukes of North Vancouver 25-21, 25-19, and the Robert Bateman Timberwolves of Abbotsford 25-14, 25-19.
That gave the Panthers a bye into one of three finals that would determine a wild card berth, and VSS continued its winning ways, sweeping the Georges P. Vanier Towhees of Courtenay 25-18, 25-15.
Vernon finished fourth at the Okanagan Valley finals, losing the bronze medal in five games to the South Kamloops Titans, who also grabbed a wild card berth to Langley, as did the Prince George Secondary Polars.
The W.L. Seaton Sonics of Vernon won their fourth straight Okanagan Valley championship to punch their card to provincials.
BC A GIRLS
Vernon Christian School Royals will be the Okanagan’s No. 3 seed, and ranked seventh overall, for the B.C. High School Senior Girls A Volleyball championships which start Thursday in Castlegar.
The Royals secured the berth by defeating Kelowna’s Aberdeen Hall 2-1 in the bronze match of the Valley championships. The Royals rolled through pool play defeating Aberdeen Hall, St. Ann’s Academy (Kamloops) and Osoyoos Secondary all in straight sets.
“We looked very dominant in our pool play,” said VCS coach Jason Reedyk. “We looked sharp and ready to compete.”
The finish gave the Royals a bye to the semifinals, where Kelowna’s Immaculata Mustangs upset the Royals 2-1.
“We were rolling to start the game, up 10 points early, but Immaculata got some confidence and played really well,” said Reedyk. “They served incredibly tough and every hit turned to gold for them.”
Provincials pool play begins Thursday with Vernon Christian taking on Duncan Christian, Immaculata and Credo Christian.
“We are especially excited this year as we know we have what it takes to win it all since there is a lot of equality in the field,” said Reedyk.
BC AA GIRLS
The draw is now set for the 20-team B.C. AA senior girls championships which start Thursday at Kal Secondary School.
The host Lakers, who finished third at the Okanagan championships, will play their pool games on their home court Thursday starting at 11 a.m. against the eighth-ranked St. Thomas More Collegiate Knights of Burnaby (Lakers are ranked 13th out of 20).
Kal will take on the third-ranked Pacific Christian Pacers of Victoria at 2:30 p.m. and conclude the round-robin Thursday at 4:50 p.m. against the St. Thomas Aquinas Fighting Saints of North Vancouver, one of two wild card entries into the tournament (the other is the DP Todd Trojans of Prince George).
The Okanagan champion George Elliot Coyotes of Lake Country are ranked second and will play their round-robin games Thursday at Fulton Secondary. Top-ranked Pacific Academy of Surrey will play their games at one of two Vernon Secondary courts being used for the tournament.
The championship game will go Saturday, Nov. 30, at Kal Secondary.