PENTICTON LAKERS Sara Berthelsen blasts this shot past Salmon Arm Jewels defender Marisa Latosky as teammates Hayden Craig

PENTICTON LAKERS Sara Berthelsen blasts this shot past Salmon Arm Jewels defender Marisa Latosky as teammates Hayden Craig

Lakers focus on Valleys after sweeping Jewels

Lakers girls volleyball team sweep Jewels and earn entry into Okanagan Valley championship

Playing in their final home game at Pen High, Lakers senior girls volleyball team didn’t mess around.

They cast aside the Salmon Arm Jewels 25-11, 25-10 and 25-11 at Pen High Wednesday night to advance to the Okanagan Valley championships in Kamloops this weekend.

“We brought it together,” said Janna Clarke, who plays the power position for the Lakers. “It’s our last game as seniors and we took it serious and got it done quick.”

Taking that approach was important since in the past, when the Lakers have built large leads, they got too comfortable and let teams creep back in. Clarke said the group is feeling confident as their play has picked up and players are meshing well compared to the start of the year.

“We are peaking at the right time,” said Clarke.

While the Jewels didn’t pose any significant threats, they still provided the Lakers a chance to work on one of their weaknesses — short lobs over the net. When the opportunity arose, the Jewels made the trick plays and they worked a few times. Clarke acknowledged they are getting better at reacting to them.

“We will see that in the Valleys,” said Clarke. “Kamloops uses that.”

Heading into the championship Clarke said the key for them is to stay positive and look towards their next point.

“We have skills, we just need to use them,” she said.

This weekend is also important for the Lakers senior boy’s volleyball team. Lakers coach Paul Smith said they have to play well during the Okanagan Valley Championship, which they host, this weekend to maintain their top eight provincial ranking.

“That puts us into the top power pools,” said Smith, who is confident his team will advance to the AAA provincials. “It gives us potentially a better draw.”

The Lakers, ranked seventh in B.C. boy’s volleyball, open the Okanagan Valley championship against the Mt. Boucherie Bears, ranked 10th, at 7 p.m. Friday. Smith said the Bears are a solid team that possess two good power hitters.

“It will be a battle,” he said. “We played them tough all year.”

Smith expects a competitive match. While the Lakers have won all the games, sets have been close. The key for the Lakers will be serving well and blocking the Bears power hitters.

The other semifinal match features the No. 2 ranked Kelowna Secondary School Owls against the unranked NorKam Saints (Kamloops). Smith said he doesn’t see how the Saints can win. The Owls are strong and have lots of experience. Should the Lakers beat the Bears, the Lakers have to be at the top of their game.  That hasn’t always happened for the Lakers. Smith is frustrated by his players’ lack of consistency. They go to tournaments and play well but also have moments when they lose focus and struggle. As Smith puts it, if  the Lakers make it to provincials, consistency is going to be important.

“You can’t afford to have one bad game against good teams,” he said. “We have to play tough and at a high level the entire weekend.”

The bronze and gold medals games are at 2 and 4 p.m. on Saturday.