Pen High’s senior girls volleyball team is eager for the Valley Championship as they haven’t played a meaningful game since Nov. 2.
“We just want to play,” said Lakers coach Paul Smith, whose team is ranked sixth in B.C. “They know they have a task to do and are ready to do it.”
The task is to be among the top two once the Valley Championships are done. Accomplishing that prevents them from advancing to the Provincial Championships through the back door, which is an option for the first time.
During the last two weeks, the Lakers have worked on tightening their serve-receive, which they have had issues with. They also worked more on their strong serves.
The Lakers open the weekend playing the South Kamloops Titans, who they have beaten in their last three meetings. Smith added that games between them have been close.
“They are an athletic team,” said Smith. “They will be gunning for us.”
The Kelowna Secondary School Owls, in Smith’s opinion, are still the team to beat as they are ranked fourth.
“I definitely want another shot at them,” said Smith. “Last time we lost in five. Their team hasn’t been all in tact. Neither has ours. We want both teams totally healthy to go at it. Want two strong teams playing their best volleyball.”
Lakers coach Scott Harkness likes where his team is heading into the Valley Championship in Kamloops this weekend. Players have been practising hard to be prepared for games against Mt. Boucherie and KSS.
Areas of focus are their free-ball transitions, which is switching between defence and offence. They have also been working on consistent serving.
“My only concern is consistency during the late points,” said Harkness. “If they are able to execute late in close games they will win. They have to put the pressure on the other team as well as make them make the mistakes.”
Harkness is happy the Lakers are healthy at the perfect time. Now all he can hope for is that their performance peaks.
“This weekend is huge since this determines the pre-rankings for provincials,” he said. “KSS, Boucherie and us have been close all year and we are ranked No. 5, No. 6 and No. 9 in the province.”
While the senior teams are on the road, the junior boys are hosting Valley Championships beginning Friday.
Competing in the championship are Clarence Fulton Secondary, Mount Boucherie Secondary, Valleyview Secondary, Southern Okanagan Secondary, Pen High, Sa-Hali Secondary and Revelstoke Secondary. Kelowna had to drop out due to injuries. The Lakers play at 2 and 5:25 p.m. Playoff action begins at 10 a.m. Saturday with bronze and gold medal games at 2:30 p.m. and 4 p.m. respectively.