Mustangs win Okanagan Valley championship
En route to winning the Okanagan Valley Championship, the Princess Margaret junior boys’ volleyball team defeated the Kelowna Secondary School Owls twice.
The Mustangs wrapped up pool play by placing first after they defeated the Owls 25-21, 18-25 and 15-12. In the final, the Mustangs won the championship in five games 25-17, 16-25, 25-22, 21-25 and 15-10 in Vernon.
“We had good competition and they played to their potential for sure,” said Mustangs coach John Buckley. “They actually rose to the challenge in a really tough match in the fifth game.”
Buckley said the Owls played them tough as it was the most they had pushed the Mustangs. Feeling his team won handily in the first set, Buckley watched as the Owls battled in the second one. After winning the third set, Buckley said his players took the foot off the gas pedal and the Owls won that fourth set.
“I was a little nervous,” said Buckley of the fifth set. “The boys rose to the challenge. They were in control pretty much that whole game.”
In the semi-final, the Mustangs defeated Pen High 25-6 and 25-13.
What impressed Buckley about his team’s performance is how composed his players remained. Going in, the Mustangs wanted to focus on overwhelming their opponents and accomplished that, said Buckley.
“We have a big team,” he said. “A lot of players can hit the ball hard. It’s important for us to be aggressive.”
As they prepare for the provincial championship in Abbotsford at Mennonite Educational Institute, the Mustangs will polish their passing and serving skills. Buckley said they will also add set plays to their offence. The Mustangs are hoping to gain confidence from the success of previous Mustangs that have won five junior provincial championships, finished second three times and third twice. They have their sights set on a realistic top three finish.
Joining the Mustangs in provincials will be the Owls and the Mt. Boucherie Bears. The Lakers are also going as they are eligible for a fourth place due to an extra valley berth not being used by another team.
The junior girls volleyball team placed second in the valley championship after losing to Kelowna’s Immaculata Catholic Regional High School 25-20 and 25-23. The Mustangs finished pool play in second as they defeated Kalamalka from Vernon and Merritt then lost to Kelowna Secondary Owls.
In the quarter-finals, the Mustangs faced the Pen High Lakers and won in two straight sets. The Mustangs also swept their semifinal match with Kalamalka Secondary.
“Our team continues to perform well under pressure,” said Mustangs coach Rich Corrie. “We have been lucky enough to advance to a number of tournament finals where there is more pressure and I believe that has helped us to be mentally strong. Even when we get down in a match, we still have the confidence that we can come back and win.”
Before leaving for South Delta, the Mustangs will continue to work on being aggressive on their offensive attack. The Mustangs feel it’s important to keep teams on the defensive by attacking and dictating the play instead of waiting for it.