Last year’s PAN Classic champs

Last year’s PAN Classic champs

Peace Arch News Classic volleyball tournament to hit court

Volleyball tournament to feature fewer teams than previous years

The Peace Arch News Classic will have a new champion in 2014.

The Seaquam Seahawks, finalists in the past three Classic tourneys – and winners twice – won’t be back to defend their title when the 17-team field begins play tomorrow (Friday) at Elgin Park and Semiahmoo secondaries.

The field is a little thinner this year, possibly due to the teacher’s strike which ended in late September and caused a little confusion in the scheduling of high school sports.

But there will still be some of the province’s best senior girls high school volleyball teams taking to the court.

The Elgin Park Orcas are ranked sixth in the 4A division, while the Clayton Heights Nightriders are ranked No. 10 among 3A schools.

Elgin Park is the lone senior girls team from South Surrey competing.

Also earning a top-10 ranking and competing at the Peace Arch News Classic are the Langley Christian Lightning, ranked third in the 1A category.

Four Junior teams (Lord Tweedsmuir, Semiahmoo, Langley Christian and Earl Marriott Mariners) are in the field, which is split into four groups for pool play Friday.

The top two teams in each group will advance to the championship round, to be played in a knockout format Saturday. The remaining nine teams will be placed into three groups of three for consolation play.

Play begins at 2 p.m. and runs through to 8 p.m. at Elgin Park and Semiahmoo secondaries Friday, and 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Saturday, with two courts at each location.

The gold medal game is at 6 p.m. Saturday at Semiahmoo.