Semi-final volleyball nail-biter earns senior Oak Bay girls provincial berth

Senior girls' and boys' teams vie for provincial title

Oak Bay High’s senior girls’ volleyball team is off to the B.C.s

Oak Bay senior girls’ 4A volleyball team is off to provincials after a second-place finish at the Island championships.

They found themselves in the gold-medal game after an intense semi-final.

This season four teams separated themselves from the competition: Oak Bay, Belmont, Mount Doug and Nanaimo’s Dover Bay, said Breakers coach Jeremy Schmidt.

“Objectively, we were consistently the third-best team out of those four,” he said.

They narrowly defeated Mt. Doug earlier in the season, and facing them in the final match of the evening last Friday, in the Mt. Doug gym proved pretty good.

“Their bleachers were completely filled with parents and students,” Schmidt said. “Their gym just with athletes is very loud … so the atmosphere was pretty intense.”

They took the team in two sets for a comeback win of 25-22 and 28-26.

“It took some adjusting to the atmosphere. I think some of our players were intimidated by the situation. Halfway through we got our composure back,” Schmidt said. “It wasn’t a huge shocker, but that we won it in two straight instead of three was not maybe what I expected, but it was well within our abilities.”

That scored the team a bye into the crossover semi-finals facing Dover Bay, leaving Belmont to face Mt. Doug.

Against Dover they took the first set and dropped the next two in the five-set match. “In the third set when we lost we were up 21-15. Honestly, we had a good talk between sets, going into the fourth set,” Schmidt said. “My players, they pulled it together and we won the fourth set 25-10. It was a brilliant surprise.”

The team started the fifth set down 7-5 then scored three straight and “from there were just took control and won 15-10. That win guaranteed us a berth to provincials.”

Across the gym, where Mt. Doug defeated Belmont, it was similarly intense.  “That, I think, was the upset of the weekend,” Schmidt said. “Mt. Doug had beaten Belmont recently, but their stronger players returned.”

Belmont and Dover Bay now play an eight-team wild card tournament where the top two teams head for provincials.

While Mt. Doug scored the final win, leaving Oak Bay second, both head for provincials Dec. 1 to 3 at Handsworth Secondary in North Vancouver.

“I often talk to my team about putting together all parts of our game for one match. If we can do that we’ll be happy with our performance and it will put us in the best possible position to win,” Schmidt said.

The senior boys volleyball team took third place in their Island championships. The Barbers advance to provincials for the 11th consecutive year. Riley Cronk was named to the 1st All-Star team and Cam Hayes to the 2nd All-Star team during the tournament last weekend at Dover Bay Secondary.

The junior boys volleyball team finished fourth, but gave a strong performance at the Island championships last weekend. The team dropped a hard-fought semi-final against the eventual champions from Claremont 19-17 in the deciding third set. The boys contested another tight match against Pacific Christian School in the bronze medal match, losing 21-19 in the third set.

Oak Bay had two junior girls teams in the league this year and both fared well through a competitive season. Although Belmont and Reynolds were the top teams in the Lower Islands, the top five schools, including Oak Bay A, were all capable of making it into the Island championships.

“In the city championships, it came down to Claremont’s top team versus Oak Bay’s A team to claim the last berth into the Islands and unfortunately we got knocked out in three sets. As much as we were disappointed to have ended our season there, I was super pleased to have played such a high-quality game against a great team,” said coach Lara McCulloch. “I never thought that this was a building year as we were always one of the top contenders, but we have a very strong group of Grade 9 girls that will be in the Junior division again next year.  In fact, five out of our six starters were Grade 9, so we should look forward to a very successful team in 2017.”