There were moments of brilliance and moments of consecutive mental errors.
That’s how Pen High Lakers senior boys volleyball coach Paul Smith summed up the play of his team during the B.C. Boys provincial volleyball championship in Kelowna.
Going into the championship that began Nov. 28, the Lakers ranked eighth, but finished seventh after defeating Elgin Park 25-16 and 33-31
Smith also talked about his young players needing to know the importance of every game.
“They are not used to the pressure,” he said.
The Lakers faced Kelowna, in what Smith said was an important game, and came out flat despite all the pressure being on the Owls, who were the host team. After losing the first game 25-15, Smith said they had chances to win the second set when it was 26-24.
“I thought we played satisfactory,” said the Lakers’ Emery Lawrence. “Parts of the tournament we definitely played better than others. Going into the quarter-finals against KSS I thought our team synergy definitely wasn’t there and we fell apart emotionally. Teamwork wasn’t there and that was our biggest downfall.”
“We had a chance to really shift momentum and we didn’t capitalize,” he said of the 29-27 loss. “Confidence was down a bit. They are a very solid team. They got silver.”
The loss to the Owls bumped the Lakers down into the consolation draw. The Lakers then lost to Eric Hamber 26-24 and 25-20 before facing Elgin Park. Smith said he didn’t feel his team played as well as they could the entire tournament. Facing Elgin Park, both teams had beaten each other during the season in tournament play.
“We came out and played really well,” said Smith. “We could not have asked for a better way to finish the tourney. They are a strong team.”
The Lakers opened the championship tournament with a pool play match against Moscrop losing 25-19 and 15-13 after winning the first set 25-19. The Lakers then lost to Delta 2-1 and defeated the Mount Boucherie Bears 2-0. The Lakers earned a spot in the final top eight as they narrowly defeated Coquitlam’s Centennial Secondary in five sets.
“We were in every match against except KSS,” said Smith. “Centennial was excellent.”
Smith was pleased with the play of Wes Van Camp who brought leadership, and said he will be hard to replace. Jordan Farmer ended up being a force in the middle and Lawrence earned honorable mention for the all-star team.
“He’s just a force at the net,” said Smith. “Very athletic. Jumps well. One game Centennial couldn’t get the ball past him. His strength is he can take big hitters out of their game. There was no hitter at the tourney he couldn’t stop.”
“I thought I played hard during the provincials,” said Lawrence. “Being a Grade 11 player, playing against older players, it definitely give me a confidence boost against all the best senior players in the province that I can definitely hold my own.”
Smith said the players learned a lot from the experience and are determined to work. Their performance against Elgin Park, in which they never gave up, is how Smith wants them to play all the time.
Losses to Elgin Park 25-23 and 26-24 then Handsworth 25-20 and 25-23 eliminated any chance of the Lakers advancing to the provincial championship from the wild card pool. Lakers coach Robert Gunning said his players performed hard and never gave up.
“We got behind in most sets and came back to make them close,” he said. “We just couldn’t find any real momentum and we struggled to finish in the end. It was a tough weekend but we are proud of the way the girls competed.”
Gunning said not advancing to provincials was a tough way for Grade 12s Janna Clarke, Steffi Caron and Sara Berthelsen to finish their high school careers.
“They showed good leadership and lots of positive energy all weekend so they can certainly hold their heads high,” said Gunning.
With several Grade 11s Hayden Craig, Kaylie Loewen, Abi McCluskey, Annaka Ramsay, Georgia Hurry, Mikala Vujcich and Jo Gunning. Gunning hopes next year will be a solid one.