Elphinstone Cougars claim PAN Classic title
The Elphinstone Cougars made the most of their first-ever appearance in the Peace Arch News Classic.
The senior girls volleyball team from Gibsons captured the PAN Classic title Saturday at Semiahmoo Secondary with a 2-0 (25-21, 25-19) win over the Seaquam Seahawks, who are no strangers to the tournament podium, having won it all last year.
“Elphinstone is a very good team. I don’t know if you’d call it an upset – they’re ranked second in AA and Seaquam is first in AAA – but Seaquam did win it last year, and were really trying to defend their title,” said tournament organizer, and Clayton Heights coach, Gord Houchen.
Elphinstone edged the Seahawks thanks to some stout defensive work, which effectively shut down Seaquam’s heavy hitters.
Michelle Jaksuk led the Cougars’ with some strong hitting herself, and was named the tournament MVP for her efforts.
Jaksuk’s teammate, Devon May, was named to the tournament all-star team, as were a pair of Seahawks, Leah Martin and Nicola Laniuk, Clayton Height’s Maddy Power and Burnaby North’s Lala Balooche.
The Cougars were very nearly bounced early in the playoffs Saturday. In quarter-finals against York House, Elphinstone trailed 14-12, but battled back to win 16-14.
“They were within one point of getting knocked out, so that put a little bit of a scare into them, for sure,” said Houchen.
“But that managed to pull it out. They’re a very good team.”
In semifinals, they beat Lord Tweedsmuir’s junior team, which surprised many by finishing fourth in the 24-team tournament. The young team lost to Courtenay’s G.P. Vanier Towhees in the bronze-medal game.
Other south-end teams to finish in the top-10 of the 24-team tournament were the Clayton Heights Night Riders (seventh) and Elgin Park Orcas (ninth).