Lakers net wild card provincial berth

Lakers senior volleyball teams qualify for provincials, as well as junior boys

PEN HIGH LAKER André Rachinski leaps for a spike in Okanagan Valley junior championships at Pen High. The Lakers have advanced to provincials after winning the valleys.

PEN HIGH LAKER André Rachinski leaps for a spike in Okanagan Valley junior championships at Pen High. The Lakers have advanced to provincials after winning the valleys.

The Pen High Lakers senior boys volleyball team achieved its season goal —  they have earned a provincial berth.

The Lakers, ranked No. 6, earned a wild card berth after they defeated the NorKam Saints in the Okanagan Valley championship in four sets, 22-25, 25-3, 25-23 and 25-19 in Kamloops on the weekend. Gunning said consistent play helped them win.

“After losing the first set, it was nice to see us settle down and come back strong in the second,” he said. “Served consistently well all weekend.”

The Lakers opened the championship with a three-set loss to the No. 2 ranked Mt. Boucherie Bears. Gunning said his team played OK, but couldn’t keep the Bears off balance. They weren’t able to get enough blocks to slow the Bears’ outside hitters.

“Overall, we played okay this weekend,” said Gunning. “We are missing one of our power hitters, Nick Everton with back problems, so that does have a bit of an impact on our size and our depth.”

With the amount of parity at the AAA level this year, that gives Gunning optimism about what his team can do.

“We feel like if we play well, we can certainly finish in the top eight, possibly higher,” said Gunning. “It should be a great tournament and the boys are looking forward to it.”

Nathan Bendig was chosen as an all-star for the event.

The Lakers senior girls team also qualified as the third seed behind Kelowna and Mt. Boucherie.

Junior boys advance

The Lakers took advantage of home turf to advance to the provincial championship in Mt. Boucherie Nov. 26-28. The Lakers hosted the Okanagan Valley championship on the weekend and defeated the Mt. Boucherie Bears in three sets, 18-25, 25-15, 15-13 in the semifinals. They then went on to beat Seaton of Vernon in four sets in the best-of-five final, 25-18, 25-22, 19-25 and 25-6.

“The boys were very excited to beat Boucherie since in two earlier meetings between the teams, Boucherie won in very close matches,” said Lakers co-coach Annika Everton, adding that her and co-coach JP Wikerd were impressed with the progress over the season.

Junior girls miss out on provincials

The Lakers failed in their attempt to qualify for the provincial championships, losing to South Kamloops Secondary 25-16 and 25-19 in the quarter-final of the valley championships. Coach Bruce McElroy said his team played some of their best volleyball during the valleys held in Vernon.

In pool play, Penticton beat Kalamalka 23-25, 25-20 and 15-7, before losing to Valleyview (Kamloops) 25-13, 21-25 and 15-11] and Mt. Boucherie (W. Kelowna) 25-22 and 25-17.