A handful of B.C.’s top senior girls volleyball teams are set to face off against each other this week, when the Peace Arch News Classic hits the court for its 20th year.
The venerable two-day tournament begins Friday, with games at Semiahmoo, Elgin Park and Earl Marriott secondaries, with the championship rounds slated for Semiahmoo Saturday, culminating with the finals at 4:30 p.m.
Twenty-four teams are slated to take part, and tournament organizer Gord Houchen, a Semi teacher who coaches at Clayton Heights, expects it to a very tough event to win.
“People used to always say, ‘Whoever wins the PAN Classic, wins provincials,'” Houchen said.
“It’s going to be a very, very competitive field again this year. There’s probably eight really strong teams that can win it, maybe more.
“Saturday is going to be a very good day, with some really good volleyball.”
Among the challengers for the PAN Classic crown – which was won last year by Surrey Christian – are Earl Marriott, who are ranked No. 5 in B.C. AAAA rankings; Clayton Heights, ranked No. 3 in AAA and the Seaquam Seahawks, currently ranked first in AAA standings.
Surrey Christian will also try to retain their title – “You know they’ll be playing hard, trying to defend it,” Houchen said – and former winners Semi, D.W. Poppy and Elgin Park will also be in the mix, Houchen said.
“Elgin is having a pretty good season in (AAAA), from what I understand,” he said. “And Poppy is a younger team this year, but they’ve won it before, and they could surprise.”