Earl Marriott girls third at volleyball provincials
Both of Earl Marriott Secondary's senior volleyball teams finished in the top five province-wide on the weekend, led by the girls' bronze-medal finish.
The Mariners' girls team placed third at B.C. AAAA Championships at Coquitlam's Riverside Secondary, defeating Charles Best Secondary in the bronze game (25-17, 23-25, 15-11).
The Mariners were ousted from gold-medal contention after a tough loss four-set loss to South Delta, which went on to win the championship over Heritage Woods.
Earlier in the tournament, Earl Marriott notched playoff-round wins over North Peace and Coquitlam's Riverside Rapids. In pool play, the Mariners finished first, defeating Charles Best, South Kamloops and Mount Baker.
Elgin Park was also in the tournament, finishing third in pool play before losing in the first playoff round to Richmond's McMath Secondary, 3-1 (25-21, 27-25, 27-29, 27-25). Once sent to the consolation draw, the Elgin Orcas won four straight games to finish in ninth place, defeating North Vancouver's Argyle Pipers in the final game.
In the boys' AAA provincials, held over the weekend in Kelowna, Earl Marriott's senior boys – who were among three or four teams expected to vie for gold – were upset in quarter-final action by Burnaby's Moscrop Panthers, and finished fifth overall.
"We just came out flat. It wasn't just one guy, or two guys, it was the whole floor of them – just one of those days," said EMS coach Richard Thain.
"I felt really bad for the guys. They'd worked so hard since September. But still, to finish fifth out of 20 teams, that's still pretty good."
The Mariners were not the only highly ranked team to get eliminated earlier than expected. The top-ranked Fraser Heights Firehawks were knocked out in semifinals, while Delta also was upset by a lower-ranked team in semifinal action.
"For Fraser Valley teams, it wasn't our best showing," said Thain. "But that's the way it goes. There wasn't a clear-cut favourite this year, so anything could happen."
Marriott's Chris Wilson was named a second-team all-star, while Braden Thain earned an honorable mention.
Richard Thain also singled out Jacob Smith and Byron Keturakis for praise.
"They both played extremely well," the coach said.
After losing their quarter-final tilt, the Mariners won their next two games, beating Elgin Park and Eric Hamber secondaries en route to fifth place.
"It wasn't the game we wanted to be in, but the boys played really well in that last game. It was an excellent way to end the tournament," Thain said of the win over Hamber.
The pair of top-five finishes is the second consecutive strong showing for EMS volleyball teams. At provincials last year, the boys finished second – losing to Oak Bay – while the senior girls were sixth.
In single-A girls volleyball provincials in Castlegar, the White Rock Christian Academy Warriors finished just off the podium, in fourth-place.
After finishing first in pool play, highlighted by a win over No. 3-ranked Mount Sentinel – also the host school – the Warriors lost in semifinals to Kelowna's Immaculata Secondary.
In the bronze-medal match, WRCA fell to Mount Sentinel.
Though they were aiming for a podium finish, WRCA coach Kelli Niemi said she was still impressed with the team's fourth-place showing, especially considering they played the entire tournament with a hobbled captain, Remi Kandal, who had sprained her ankle two weeks prior and was on crutches just days before leaving for Castlegar.
"We basically played her only when we had to play her," Niemi said, from Kelowna Monday morning, where the team was waiting to fly home after a Sunday flight home from Castlegar was cancelled. "But still, she ended up being named a second-team all-star."
Adriana Weber was also named to the second all-star team.
"The girls fought really hard. We didn't lose because of a lack of effort, that's for sure," Niemi said.