By the end of the Pen High Lakers’ Ice Breaker volleyball tournament, the strength of the valley should be known.
That is the belief of Lakers boy’s coach Paul Smith, whose team will face George Elliott at noon today, Vernon Secondary School at 2:20 p.m. and finish off round robin play with Kelowna Secondary School at 4:40 p.m. Other schools playing include, Princess Margaret, Mt. Boucherie, Fulton Secondary and NorKam.
“It’s going to be really tight. It’s going to be kind of the battle of the valley,” said Smith. “Mt. Boucherie is going to be a key because they returned most of their players. Also, KSS is coming off a strong season. It’s going to be a battle between the three teams.”
This weekend’s tournament is important because of provincial rankings. Smith said if the Okanagan Valley were to get three of four teams in provincials, they would have to make sure the teams are among the top 10.
“Every tournament is important for us because of provincial rankings,” he said.
Heading into this weekend Smith has four players trying to heal from nagging injuries so he planned on playing his younger group. He likes the Grade 11 players they have, but they don’t have experience. To him, the injuries they have creates depth.
“At provincials, it isn’t six or seven players that win, you need 10 players,” he said. “It’s a marathon. Getting younger players more time could pay off later.”
Smith also prefers to have the small injuries now rather than the middle of November, which would cause concern.
Prior to the tournament, the Lakers opened their regular season at home against the NorKam Saints on Wednesday. Smith said he had no idea what to expect.
“You don’t want to give NorKam confidence,” he said. “You kind of want to put the nail in the coffin early. You guys can’t play with me. Just give it up.”
The Lakers won 25-13, 25-13, 25-11.
Tonight, Prince Margaret is hosting a men’s university exhibition game between the University of Alberta and Trinity Western University at 7 p.m.