The Pen High Lakers senior girls volleyball team wants to develop a killer instinct.
That’s what Lakers libero Jolene Gunning said after the team won their home Halloween tournament against the Vernon Secondary School Panthers.
In both sets against the Panthers, the Lakers built 9-3 leads and went on to win 25-23. The libero repeated that their coach, Robert Gunning, said they don’t like big leads. When the players sense the opposition is coming back, they say to themselves, OK, they need to finish it now.
“I think that’s how we kept our motivation throughout the game,” said Jolene. “I also think our fighting spirit is important to have as well.”
The Lakers opened the tournament by defeating city rival Princess Margaret Secondary Mustangs 25-12 and 25-21. The Mustangs finished seventh after defeating the Rutland Voodoos. The Lakers finished first in their pool, then faced rival Kelowna Secondary School Owls in the semifinal, which they won in three sets. Jolene said the win against the Owls was important for them.
“We were so motivated to win it,” she said. “It’s always fun to beat them.
“I think this really showed our full potential,” continued Jolene. “Especially in the game against KSS (Kelowna Secondary School), we played really well. It’s important to finally show that.”
Jolene said their defence was strong during the weekend as they blocked well, but there is room for improvement.
“This weekend is a lead up to provincials,” said Jolene of the championship the Lakers host. “We are all really excited to play in our home gym. This is where we need to get to now.”
Throughout the tournament, Robert said he wanted to see his players compete and work hard. After they had won, he said they tended to relax a bit, but they got the job done.
“I really like the fact that we’re starting to get some blocks and we’re starting to play better defence,” said Robert. “With those two things, they bring us lots of energy. That’s what we need.”
Mustangs coach Tim Haberstock said they also find the Lakers tournament a challenge since they are playing in a higher level that can expose their weaknesses. However, he said it allows them to use that in practice to improve on.
“I was pleased with our wins over Rutland and wasn’t surprised by several of our losses,” he said. “The one game I thought we should have won was against Mt. Boucherie, where we out-hit them significantly, but they defended well and showed us the importance of that side of the game.”
On Monday, the Mustangs finished first in the South/Central AA league going 6-0 on the season after they defeated the Summerland Rockets and George Elliot Coyotes. The Mustangs earned a bye into the finals on Nov. 7, in which they host either the Rockets or Coyotes.