Determined to finish top-three during junior boys volleyball provincials, the Princess Margaret Mustangs accomplished that last weekend.
They won bronze by defeating Langley Christian 25-14, 23-25 and 15-8 in Abbotsford at Mennonite Educational Institute.
They started the provincial championship with wins against Fraser Heights from Surrey and Centennial Secondary from Coquitlam, then lost what coach John Buckley described as a “meaningless match” to Steveston-London Secondary from Richmond.
In the first playoff round, the Mustangs were led to victory with strong middle attack kills and blocking from Rylan Potter and Kohl Linder. They then defeated scrappy College Heights from Prince George 25-23, 25-12. A quarter-finals cross over match with Earl Marriott from Surrey resulted in the Mustangs having a strong performance winning 25-13 and 25-16.
“That was our best team performance of the year for an entire match,” said Mustangs co-captain Colton Van Camp in a release. Next up was host MEI, ranked No. 1.
Buckley preferred that three-set underdog match-up over a five-set final for the chance of a victory. Playing in front of MEI’s home crowd and opening match pressure proved too much for the Mustangs. After losing 25-12, Buckley watched as his players regrouped to their power-hitting game. A back and forth battle resulted in a 25-23 loss.
“We had the top team on the ropes and if we could have closed out that game we could have scared them if it went three, as we were gaining confidence,” said Buckley. “It came down to them being more experienced and better passers and servers as a team.”
Co-coach Terry Major said the Mustangs can win provincials in a couple years. Buckley said the Mustangs’ bronze medal win feels more like silver since they defeated rivals Kelowna Secondary School, who placed second in provincials, nine out of 10 times during the year.
The Mustangs placed 16th out of 24 teams. A two-set loss to Victoria’s Oak Bay put the Mustangs in third in their pool. That also placed them in the bracket of 13th to 18th place.
“We played a little inconsistent and a little nervous and came out on the losing end 25-22 and 25-20,” said Mustangs coach Rich Corrie. “Our strong serving, which has been a real weapon for us for most of the year, let us down a little bit, mostly due to nerves.”
The Mustangs were more relaxed on Saturday. While the Mustangs lost to Seaquam of Delta and Kelowna Secondary, they won in straight sets over Langley Fundamental. Sydney McKinlay and Taylor Corrie were chosen as all-stars for the provincial tournament.
“I am really proud of the girls, they represented our school and city all year with great sportsmanship and class,” he said.