Two straight wins helped the Pen High Lakers senior girls volleyball team finish 15th in B.C.
Lakers libero Jolene Gunning said it was important for her and her teammates to win their final game against the Mt.Baker Secondary School Wild in the AAAA provincial championship at Okanagan College Saturday.
“I think the way we won it was important too,” said Jolene. “We gave it our all but we also had fun.”
Lakers coach Robert Gunning watched as his team dispatched the Wild 25-15 and 25-22. He said it was nice for the girls to finish their season on a high note.
“More importantly, I think we had a lot of fun in that last match,” said the coach, who has worked with the group since Grade 6. “They enjoyed the experience. Played with positive energy.”
A four-set loss to rival Kelowna Secondary School Owls, who finished fifth in the province, knocked them down to the consolation bracket. Losing to West Vancouver eliminated their chances of finishing in the top 10.
Coach Gunning said it’s a long tournament that is physically tiring and mentally draining. The motivation from his group didn’t waver.
“They never quit all weekend. Just sometimes things didn’t go our way,” said Robert. “These girls have always represented themselves and their school really well. I’m proud of all their accomplishments.”
Jolene wiped away tears and felt sad because her high school volleyball career is over.
“I think that I personally have taken all four years that have led up to this for granted,” she said. “This is just kind of like, wow, it’s all over. I can’t believe how it flew by.”
Lakers setter Abi McCluskey felt awesome despite her volleyball career ending. With no more subs available, McCluskey ended up in the right spot to score the winning point.
“It was a lot of fun,” said McCluskey, who, when the play happened, quickly tapped the ball down into an open space. “It was a really good way to end,” said McCluskey. “I think we performed really well. (Friday) I think we had a few down moments.”
McCluskey said it wasn’t disappointing losing to the Owls, but it was to West Vancouver. She felt they should have won that match.
Senior boys 13th.
Lakers coach Paul Mend said his team did not play their best ball. They finished third in their pool as their lone win came against Victoria’s Oak Bay Secondary.
The Lakers opened the playoff bracket with a loss to Reynolds Secondary.
“That was a big one,” said Mend. It was a five-set loss to “a scrappy team who didn’t make a lot of mistakes.”
“Unforced errors and poor passing hurt us in this one,” added Mend.
The Lakers then lost to G.P. Vanier as passing issues again hurt them.
The Lakers defeated Delta for 13th-place.
Mend said all of the teams competed at a high level and there was plenty of parity.