The first time all year the Vernon Panthers beat the Seaton Sonics came in the final of the North Zone High School Junior Girls Volleyball Championships at the Seaton gym.
VSS upset Seaton 25-21, 9-25, 15-11 to capture the pennant. Both teams advance to the Okanagan Valley championships Friday and Saturday, Nov. 15 and 16, at the Panther Pit.
“Seaton is the benchmark for girls volleyball in the North Okanagan,” said Panthers coach Mike Bertram. “We had to play at the top of our game to beat them, especially in their gym. They are a very skilled and well-coached team that has consistently finished in the top five in all tournaments this year.”
The Panthers took the first set behind the big-hitting of middles Rachel Horsfield and Lauren Hoard.
“We were able to run a lot of our attack out of the middle and that led to a lot of points for us,” said Bertram. “Emma Bouchard was amazing at libero with excellent passing and leadership, keeping the girls’ energy up.”
Seaton took game two 25-9, coming out firing and rattling the Panthers. In the deciding set, VSS’ Julianna Spitzer made some nice plays out of right side and set a good block, Nadia Nelson was setting dimes to her teammates and served six straight points with two aces to help put the game away. Horsefield and Hoard were again huge out of the middle.
VSS started the tournament beating an improved Pleasant Valley Sinners squad from Armstrong 25-18, 25-8. The team was led by middle Olivia Wattie who was big at the net and consistently hit kills out of middle. Kylie Lightfoot was consistent with her setting which led to big hits by Kaitlyn Budgen from power and Deane Kitzul from the right side.
In the semis the Cats beat Fulton 25-19, 25-10. The Fulton coaching staff did an excellent job with those girls and they came a long way this year. Powers Sarah Claeys and Camryn Beacom showed great all-around skills with solid passing and hitting. Bertram gave a big shout out to assistant coach Cory Hoard for his expertise this year.
The Panthers are in a pool with the Valleyview Vikings of Kamloops, Kelowna Owls and winner of a challenge match between the Summerland Rockets and Princess Margaret Mustangs of Penticton.
The Sonics are grouped with the Mt. Boucherie Bears of West Kelowna, Pen-Hi Lakers of Penticton and South Kamloops Titants.
VSS plays at 2 p.m. Friday against Kelowna, 4:30 p.m. vs Valleyview and at 8:15 p.m. vs the challenge winner. Seaton plays at the same times against Mt. Boucherie, South Kamloops and Pen-Hi.
The bronze-medal match goes at 2 p.m. with the championship game set for 3:15 p.m. Top three teams advance to the B.C. championships in Surrey.