It’s not often that the penultimate game of a national tournament overshadows the championship game itself.
But that was the case for the Peninsula-based Seaside Volleyball Club‘s under-14 girls team, who claimed top spot in their division of Volleyball Canada Championships last week in Calgary, but had to stage an impressive semifinal comeback en route to the national crown.
Having advanced to semifinals after winning a do-or-die quarter-final tilt against the top-ranked Alberta squad, Seaside – the No. 3 B.C. seed by virtue of a bronze medal at provincials last month – found themselves squared off against the second-ranked B.C. club, Vancouver’s Thunder Blue.
Seaside had not lost to their provincial rivals all season, but did not get off to a good start in semifinals, dropping the first game, and finding themselves down 18-7 at one point in the second game.
“We had a slow start… then found ourselves in a very tough spot – I think the worst I’ve ever been in as a coach,” said Seaside head coach Bob Smith.
The Peninsula crew soon rallied – in part, Smith said, to the “exceptionally strong and consistent serving” from Grace Hoffmann and Talia Kent-Snowsell – and ended up winning the second game 25-23. They capped the comeback with a 15-11 win in the third game.
Smith called the win “the most incredible comeback I’ve ever seen in over 30 years of volleyball.”
After winning in such dramatic fashion, Seaside still had the most important game of the tournament to play – the final, where they battled Ontario’s second seed.
The game failed to match the drama of the semifinals, and Seaside rolled over their eastern foes in two straight games (25-20 and 25-16).
Earlier in the 32-team Division 1 tournament, Seaside – whose roster was made up primarily of players from Elgin Park, Earl Marriott, White Rock Christian Academy and Southridge schools – had placed second in first- and second-day round robin pools.