Lakers cooled in Ice Breaker

The Pen High Lakers were cooled down during their senior boys’ Ice Breaker volleyball tournament.

The Pen High Lakers were cooled down during their senior boys’ Ice Breaker volleyball tournament.

Things didn’t go as hoped. The Lakers finished fifth out of eight teams after defeating George Elliott in their final game. Lakers coach Paul Smith said he was disappointed, saying pressure is an important factor.

“We just haven’t learned how to deal with the pressure,” said Smith, whose team lost to city rivals Princess Margaret Mustangs, a club that defeated NorKam (Kamloops) for third place.

Against George Elliott, Smith said the team played well.

“We executed, served well, dug some balls,” he said. “They were very confident in their abilities and they went out and played that way.”

The Lakers are making adjustments to a new system as they don’t have any middle blockers. That is something Smith expects to clear up.

“It’s a huge learning curve,” he said. “We have to take two players and develop them into middles very quickly.

“We do have depth. That is a plus,” continuted Smith, whose team lost to Mt. Boucherie Tuesday evening 25-15, 25-12, 25-23  then travel to Abbotsford for a tournament at Mennonite Educational Institute this week.

As for the Mustangs, coach Bo Boxall liked his group’s finish. Opening day wasn’t good, but the Mustangs turned things around Saturday. Boxall said the reason is they didn’t make the same mistakes.

“It was nice to see our boys come out and beat NorKam in the bronze-medal game after losing to them the day before,” he said. “Norkam is very scrappy. They aren’t as deep as other AAA teams, but they never quit on any balls. Our guys were forced to stay focused on every point.”

With this being the Mustangs’ first tournament, Boxall wanted his players to get touches on the ball. He praised Lakers coaches Smith and Paul Mend for scheduling several games for the teams.

“Aside from Josh Ryan, our entire team is made up of Grade 11s,” he said. “The jump from junior level to senior level is huge. The speed of the game is the biggest change, so having our guys get six matches in was critical for our development.”

Boxall liked the athleticism and hustle his players showed. Lacking in experience and depth, they made up for it with those two factors.

“In every match this year we want teams to leave the court thinking that was one of the toughest matches they’ve played all year,” said Boxall. “If we can do that, win or lose, we’ve been successful.”

Having a strong weekend for the Mustangs was Spencer Kingzett, who was consistent and provided a calm presence in the back row. Boxall was also impressed by Duncan Woods’ ability to adjust to the game. Woods didn’t play last year and proved to be a huge asset in the middle.

Kelowna Secondary School defeated Mt. Boucherie 2-1 to win the tournament. Seventh and eighth place went to Vernon Secondary and Fulton Secondary, also of Vernon, respectively.