Lakers volleyball teams take bronze in valley championship

Boys had difficulty passing under low ceiling, while girls couldn't overcome flat start

JOLENE GUNNING of the Penticton Secondary Lakers

JOLENE GUNNING of the Penticton Secondary Lakers

Penticton Secondary School’s senior AAA volleyball teams are third best in the Okanagan Valley.

The boys team played solid, but couldn’t capitalize on their chances.

A lack of finish at Mt. Boucherie resulted in the Lakers finishing third after they lost a close match to the host Bears.

The Lakers, who enter provincials next weekend ranked sixth, had difficulties with their passing because of a low ceiling.

“Our guys managed to pass about 12 balls that grazed the roof and were out of play,” said Lakers coach Paul Mend. “We need to pass better in smaller gyms.”

“It was a very big factor,” said Laker Cor DeWaal. “We have a really great facility. We have really high ceilings compared to Mt. Boucherie.”

DeWaal said he felt the team played well against Mt. Boucherie, a team they matched up with evenly, but said it was a tough battle.

“That  game can go either way. It has gone either way all year,” he said. “The second game was against NorKam, a weaker team. That was a good time for our non-starters to get some play time.”

DeWaal said they were good around the net with their attack and blocking, but admitted they struggled with their defence during the championship.

Mend said that along with the Lakers, the Kelowna Secondary School Owls and Bears stepped up their play during the Okanagan Valley championship. The Owls and Bears head into provincials, hosted by Kelowna Secondary, ranked first and fourth respectively.

This Friday, the Lakers and Princess Margaret Mustangs senior boys team will battle in the first Friday Night Lights event at Pen High at 7 p.m. Mend said both teams are evenly matched as they are ranked in the top eight of the AA (Mustangs) and AAA.

“Maggie is made up of some very athletic young Grade 11s, while Pen High boasts a mixed roster but relies heavily on their Grade 12s,” said Mend, adding that one of the great storylines features stepbrothers facing each other with Kyle Kohlhauser and Brayden Wheeler.

Each team has a win in two previous match ups, so they are geared up for the rubber match.

“The winner gets bragging rights till next season,” said Mend.

During the game, there will be empty boxes for canned/dry food donations to kick start 10,000 Tonight Canned Food Drive which Maggie is hosting this year. There will also be a loonie or Toonie jar for Phillipine Disaster Relief Fund.

A flat start contributed to the Laker girls losing to the Kelowna Secondary School Owls in three sets at Rutland Senior Secondary School. Lakers coach Robert Gunning said his team played well in the second and third sets, but still lost 25-23 and 25-18, respectively. The Lakers then defeated Mt. Boucherie in four sets in the bronze medal match (scores 25-13, 24-26, 25-20 and 25-14).

“Overall, not a bad valleys but we certainly need to step it up for the provincials,” said Gunning. “We pushed KSS hard, but a few costly errors late in the game cost us. At the provincials, we will just have to focus hard on not taking any points off and keeping our energy level up for the duration of matches.”

Georgia Hurry and Annaka Ramsay led the way at the service line with nine and six aces, respectively.  Kaylie Loewen led the way in kills followed by Hurry and Ciska Bakkeren.  Loewen and Jolene Gunning led on defence with 12 digs apiece.

“It definitely wasn’t our best tournament,” said Ramsay. “I don’t think we reached the top game that we could play at all.”