Bragging rights are up for grabs Nov. 12 when the Lakers and Mustangs battle in the Penticton High School Volleyball City championship.
Lakers senior boys’ coach Rob Gunning said there has been talk amongst his players about this matchup.
“I think they are looking forward to it. It should be a great atmosphere,” said Gunning. “Last year, the gym was packed (estimated that nearly 600 people attended) and I’m sure the leadership students from both schools will have lots of fun activities for the fans.”
On the court, Gunning expects it to be a tough series.
“Their boys team is very solid, and very balanced,” said Gunning of the Mustangs ranked fifth in the province in AA. “They play with good energy all the time and have played very well recently. We will have to serve and pass well. We will have to play well defensively, as we usually do and be aggressive on offence when we get our chances.”
Gunning said his team, which which dropped from eighth to an honourable mention in the AAA provincial rankings, have improved as the season continues and hopes for more growth over the next week.
Mustangs coach Shawn Lum likes how his team is performing. They have battled injuries, but are at full strength and are ready to take on the Lakers.
“They are excited to play and excited that we will be playing this game in our home gym,” said Lum. “Mustang players are always wanting to play competitive games and playing Pen High should be a competitive game.”
Lum said there is added motivation from his players after the Lakers won last year.
“The best part of this match is that there will be a lot of people in a gym watching these four teams play some good volleyball,” he said. “Any chance we get to promote our sport is an opportunity to get younger kids interested. A big thanks to Bo Boxall. He did most of the leg work to get this game going again.”
Boxall, who last year coached the Mustangs senior boys’ team and lost to the Lakers, said there will be a good level of competition.
“Any time we get to play one another the intensity always goes up,” said the Lakers senior girls’ coach. “The game is all about pride for the athletes. No one wants to lose in a cross-city game.”
Boxall expects a tough matchup for the Lakers as the Mustangs have been playing well.
“They are an older and taller team with quite a few different options,” said Boxall, who as coach of the Mustangs senior boys’ volleyball squad lost to the Lakers last year. “We will have to play tough defensively and limit any runs that Maggie can go score. If we can do that, this should be an epic matchup.”
Boxall has seen his team get better, especially defensively, in the last two weeks.
“I think we are getting hot at the right time of the year,” he said.
Mustangs coach Tim Haberstock said his group is looking forward to the matchup. Having split two matches earlier in the season during Mustang Mania, Habertsock feels this is a great chance for both teams to claim not only the city championship, but the season series.
“Since we play in different leagues, there isn’t much of a rivalry, but I know both teams will be excited and maybe a bit nervous playing in front of a huge crowd, something they aren’t used to doing,” he said. “It’s always exciting to show off your skills in front of your peers and I think our girls are hoping to do just that and set the table for a great night of hard-hitting volleyball.”
The action begins with the senior girls at 6 p.m., then the boys at 7:15 p.m.
“We are hoping for a big turnout and I think Bo Boxall did an excellent job promoting this and organizing this event,” said Lum.
As for the atmosphere, Boxall said that will make it a memorable event for everyone.
“I think what the leadership groups have done to make this a fun night for everyone is fantastic,” he said. “I really look forward to the atmosphere in the gym and the smiles on the athletes faces.”
Admission for the event is non-perishable food items to kick start the 10,000 Tonight Food Drive, which both schools work together on.