After a one-year hiatus caused by the COVID-19 pandemic cancelling all high-school sports, the Peace Arch News Classic volleyball tournament is set to return to South Surrey.
The tournament – an annual event in non-pandemic years – is set for this Friday and Saturday (Oct. 22-23) at Semiahmoo Secondary.
This year’s tournament is a 16-team senior-girls-only event; in previous years, some junior squads have taken part.
The hosts from Semiahmoo anchor the tournament’s Pool A, along with Langley Fundamental, Richmond’s McRoberts Secondary and R.E Mountain. Other Surrey teams set to compete are Southridge, Guildford Park, Salish Secondary and Holy Cross. Teams will play games within their respective pools on Friday, while Saturday will feature playoff rounds.
The championship game is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Saturday.
The PAN Classic has been held since the late 1980s – and has topped out at 24 teams in its heyday; in 2019, the last time the event was held, just 10 teams took to the court, in large part due to a glut of competing tournaments being staged on the same weekend.
This year, organizer Gord Houchen said they actually had to turn a few teams away, in order to keep the tournament draw to a manageable number, rather than expand and have to play the event out of two local schools, as has sometimes been the case in pre-pandemic times.
Other COVID-19-related protocols for this year’s high-school volleyball season include that players must wear masks when they aren’t on the court; a contact-tracing sign-in sheet is required for spectators; and teams will not switch sides of the court during a game, in order to restrict unnecessary movements.
None of the changes have affected much as far as on-court action goes, nor been much of a burden to anyone, Houchen noted.
“It’s just good that the kids are back playing. That’s what everyone is most happy about,” he said.
The 2019 event was won by the Mission Roadrunners, who defeated Semiahmoo in the gold-medal game.