IN FRONT OF a packed Pen High gym

Sun Devils hang on to B.C. title

South Delta squad the top senior girls' volleyball team in the province for second year in a row

Winning the 2013 AAAA B.C. High School senior girls volleyball provincial championship is better than the first time for South Delta Sun Devils coach Dan Burgess.

“This year we appreciate it a lot more because you really realize how hard it is to repeat,” said Burgess, who watched his team win three straight sets against the Earl Marriott Mariners after losing the first set to Pen High.

“It really is.

“There is a lot of luck involved. You have to stay away from injuries.

“Everything has to come together at the right time.

“I’m ecstatic, but I think this one is a little bit sweeter than last year.”

Tournament most valuable player Nicole McNamara said it was an incredible feeling to win as the team worked so hard.

“I’m just so happy this is how we finished off the season,” said McNamara, who helped the Sun Devils win 25-23, 25-19 and 25-19 in front of a packed gym that included the host Lakers and other competing schools.

McNamara said the challenge, facing their Fraser Valley rivals, was mental.

“We play them all the time. Usually it can go either way,” said McNamara.

The turning point in her opinion came after the first set, which she said they were really nervous about.

“We kept calm in the second set. We cleaned it up a bit,” said McNamara.

“After the second set we were pretty confident that we could do it.”

Burgess said the Mariners were incredible.

“We played them three or four times this year. Tonight was by far the best I had ever seen them play,” said Burgess, who praised the performance of Mariner Christie Faester, who he said was incredible defensively. “We had to change our lineup a little bit. After the first game, we had to switch a few things around.

“The usual combination for unlocking Earl Marriott wasn’t working. We had to work a little harder.”

Burgess was impressed with the quality of teams.

“Last year if you asked any coach, you could pick out the top four teams pretty easily,” he said.

“This year, I think it was eight or nine teams that legitimately had a shot at winning this thing.

“It was a very deep field this year. We were lucky to come out on top in a lot of ways.”

As for the play of his MVP, Burgess said McNamara, who he described as an amazing player, was awesome. He relied on her to get things going on the right side.

“That’s Nicole’s specialty,” he said of the left-hander. “She puts the ball away when it matters.”

When asked about her MVP selection, McNamara said everyone on the team played well and could have easily been named MVP.

“I’m just so happy I got it,” she said.

Burgess said the Sun Devils loved their time in Penticton.

They were impressed with the hospitality and enjoyed some unexpected support.

“The girls were laughing because they would be walking down the street or walking through the mall and total strangers would say, ‘Go South Delta,’” he said.

“We don’t even get that at home. They have their sweaters, they are getting fan support. They loved it.”

Burgess praised the work that Lakers coach Rob Gunning put in to organizing and said it highlighted the beautiful school.

“Penticton is a great town to host any kind of championship,” said Burgess.

“From the hotels to the restaurants, we really felt welcomed.”