The only surprise left to give Pen High’s girls volleyball team that had a better chance of leaving a smile was a Kinder Surprise.
It would have been the perfect gift at the Lakers’ Halloween Bash. Two surprises they received left mixed reactions. It started with the Kelowna Owls dressing a junior team, while the Mt. Boucherie Bears shocked the Lakers by upsetting South Kamloops. That set up a Bears/Lakers final.
“It was disappointing to not play a senior team,” said Lakers coach Paul Smith of the Owls squad. “We were looking forward to that. You kind of get up and you have your mindset, and then we came out hard and made some changes. We had to pull it out in the third. It’s disappointing in a number of ways. You want to play top-notch competition. We had fans there that wanted to see a good game.”
The Owls were forced to dress a younger lineup due to injuries. The Lakers were told the Owls would be playing with some juniors, but not to the extent they did; Smith was still expecting his team to face seven seniors. Sweeping the Owls was the start of the Lakers going 7-0 to win the tournament.
“I think we improved on a number of areas,” said Smith. “We played more consistent. We got ourselves in some holes but they dug their way out. It’s always nice to win a tournament at home.”
Against the Bears, the Lakers found themselves down by nine points. They worked their way out of the deep hole to win 27-25. Smith figures that his players were looking forward to playing South Kamloops so they didn’t have the right mentality to start the match against the Bears.
“Second game we had a little bit more control,” he said. “I think that was a little disappointing. OK, this is the final, regardless of who you play, come out like gangbusters.”
The second game wasn’t as close with the Lakers, taking it 25-14.
Among the players who impressed were Keirsten Mend, Janna Clarke, Dani Pratt and Sara Berthelson. Smith said Mend had a solid tournament and enjoyed her most consistent weekend.
“She was hitting the ball hard, making tips,” said Smith. “Our three middles who we interchange Clarke, Pratt and Berthelson, they all played consistent. They go in throughout the game and we don’t really miss a beat. I was really impressed with them.”
Smith added though that they haven’t had a weekend where anybody has played really poorly. They just haven’t had anybody playing great.
“I thought our team as a whole we all improved a lot,” said Mend. “It was really great to be part of that experience. It was really great to win our home tournament. We won it last year too so that’s two years in a row.”
In winning the tournament, Mend said the players have gained more confidence.
“I know everyone is playing better and we are like a cohesive unit,” said Mend, who dressed up as a nerd (glasses with tape and suspenders) for Halloween.
Princess Margaret Mustangs finished last among the 13 teams.
Ranked No. 9 in the province, the Lakers senior boys volleyball team enjoyed a great weekend at Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops. The Lakers went 5-2 against the top teams in the province to finish ninth of 24.
Their only two losses came against Langley Christian (No. 2 in AA) in round robin (25-20, 26-24) and Fraser Heights (No. 3 AAA) in the first round of the playoffs (26-24, 27-25).
“One of the best moments of the tournament came while playing a highly skilled DP Todd (Prince George),” said Harkness. “DP Todd was big, fast and dug everything the boys hit at them. As a result, Pen High lost the first game by the widest margin this year, 25-11. The boys on the floor were completely deflated. However, the five guys on the bench got the starters pumped up by cheering louder than any team I’ve seen. The cheering paid off and Pen High rallied back and beat DP Todd the next two games to move on to the consolation final.”
After wrapping up against the Owls on Wednesday, the Lakers will head to George Elliot for the last tournament before Valleys and Provincial Championships.