Pen High’s boys volleyball teams are going to provincials.
The Lakers senior squad finished third in the Okanagan Valley championship and found out Sunday they were given a wild card spot to compete in provincials being held in Langley, Nov. 25-29.
“We got a lot better. We worked hard,” said Lakers coach Rob Gunning, whose team didn’t qualify from their zone. “We competed and they (Mt. Boucherie Bears) are a really good team.”
After losing to the Bears, ranked fourth in the province in the semifinals, the Lakers handily defeated the Rutland Secondary Voodoos. The Lakers are seeded at No.16 for provincials after being ranked sixth in week eight.
The Lakers qualified for provincials at the Okanagan Valley championship hosted by NorKam Secondary in Kamloops. Lakers coach Annika Everton said her team played an excellent match against Vernon’s Fulton Secondary and lost in the third set 15-13. They beat NorKam in three sets, the final one being 17-15 and lost to a very strong Kelowna Secondary Owls squad. They also lost to the Princess Margaret Mustangs in three sets.
“The team served and passed the ball well,” said Everton. “They are still learning how to finish a match to ensure a win when it is close.”
The Lakers will travel to West Kelowna as Mt. Boucherie hosts the provincial tournament Nov. 20-22.
Coach Bo Boxall watched as his Lakers team didn’t quit against an improved Rutland Secondary Voodoos team that beat them in three sets for third place.
“They showed a lot of heart and ability to compete in those moments. That was probably our biggest challenge all year was finishing a match late,” said Boxall.
“That third set we didn’t get to where we wanted to be. Ability to fight and continue to compete is important with developing for next year.”
“It was hard. It was our last match and we knew that going in,” said Laker Elena Greig. “We gave it our all. It was a fun match. The Rutland team is really improved too.”
Boxall acknowledged it is tough not advancing to provincials, but they faced a strong Mt. Boucherie Bears squad. Boxall felt his group had a chance against the Bears, but they were out served.
“It’s likely the best I have seen Mt.Boucherie serve,” he said. “We just didn’t have a response against them.”
Against the Voodoos, Boxall liked how his players responded and said the way his seniors led the younger players during the season will pay big dividends.