Pen High Lakers digging for more wins

Pen High Lakers senior boys’ and girls’ teams are looking to finish strong, hosting Halloween tournament Oct. 24 to 25.

Pen-High Lakers Tessa Lannon prepares to spike the ball through the outstretched arms of Kelowna Owls defenders Maddy Verkerk (12) and Alexa Eger during senior girls high school volleyball action at Penticton Secondary SchoolWednesday

Pen-High Lakers Tessa Lannon prepares to spike the ball through the outstretched arms of Kelowna Owls defenders Maddy Verkerk (12) and Alexa Eger during senior girls high school volleyball action at Penticton Secondary SchoolWednesday

As the volleyball season heads past the halfway mark, the Pen High Lakers senior boys’ and girls’ teams are looking to finish strong.

Both teams will have an opportunity to go up against some of the best in the region as they host the Lakers Halloween Invitational tournament Oct. 24-25.

Teams attending the tournament include Westside, Rutland, Mt. Sentinel, Vernon, West Van, Princess Margaret and Mt. Boucherie.

Mt. Sentinel’s senior girls’ squad are the favourites entering the tournament and are one of the biggest contenders, being ranked No. 2 in the province in the A division. The Lakers will also face tough opponents in Mt. Boucherie, ranked No. 10 in the AAAA division, and Princess Margaret, who is ranked eighth in AA.

The Lakers senior girls’ squad has been sitting at .500 for most of the season, struggling to make up the age gap with only four Grade 12 players, according to head coach Bo Boxall.

“Overall we’re a very young team,” Boxall said. “This whole year has been a lot about development and trying to make ourselves as competitive as we can, for the coming years especially.”

Boxall said that getting a good first touch will be essential to setting up a rally, and crucial for the team’s success moving forward.

“We’re really trying to work on our servicing and making sure that every rally starts with a good pass so that we’re in a good position to utilize all of our finishers and get as many kills as we can,” Boxall said.

The Lakers senior boys’ are sitting around the same middle-of-the-road .500 mark as the girls ‘squad, coming off of four wins and two losses during their trip to Kelowna Secondary School last weekend.

“Overall pretty happy with that. We’re playing good defence, we’re passing really well, still having a little trouble finishing, but we’re getting better each weekend,” said Rob Gunning,  head coach of the senior boys team.

Among the losses last weekend was MEI, one of the best teams playing in the province right now, the other loss was to Princess Margaret, which is ranked sixth in AA.

The boys finished 15th in a 40-team tournament, a result that sits well with coach Gunning. As of the Oct. 21 standings, Penticton is sitting at eighth in the AAA division, with Earl Marriot holding the No.1 spot.

The focus for Gunning’s squad heading into the weekend will be consistency as well as finishing off rallies.

The return of Grade 12 striker Brayden Wheeler for the tournament should help bolster the Lakers attack heading into a tough weekend.

“We’ll just look to continue playing good defence, continue to pass well, serve a little tougher and attack a little better. If we can do those things then I like our chances,” Gunning said.