Paul Yates/Vancouver Sports Pictures photo Seaside’s Keatan Mann (right) battles at the net during last weekend’s provincial U18 boys championship game. Seaside won the game over the Fraser Valley Volleyball Club.

Seaside U18s surf to provincial volleyball gold

First U18 championship for Semiahmoo Peninsula volleyball program

When it comes to provincial championships, Seaside Volleyball Club’s trophy case is awfully full.

Dating back to 2003, the Semiahmoo Peninsula-based club has won titles at every age division – both boys and girls – from under-14 to under-17. Through all the years, only a U18 title eluded their grasp.

Until now.

Last weekend at the Richmond Olympic Oval, Seaside’s U18 Surf boys team won gold at provincial club volleyball championships with a come-from-behind win over the Fraser Valley Volleyball Club. Next up for the White Rock/South Surrey squad – along with a handful of other Seaside teams – is a trip to national championships, set for Edmonton in mid-May.

Against Fraser Valley – a game club president Shane Donen called “an epic battle” – Seaside dropped the first set, 25-18, but rebounded in the second to knot the score at 1-1. The turning point of the second set, was a touch dig from libero Kris La Guardia, who powered the ball over top of the Fraser Valley players into the back corner of the court to give the Surf a 28-26 win, which forced a third and deciding set.

In that final set, Seaside found itself up 14-13 and serving for the game, but the Valley squad won the point. It was at that point that Seaside coach Dave Dooley – former senior boys volleyball coach at Earl Marriott Secondary – called timeout, rallied his troops and called a play.

Next, Michael Dowhaniuk and Malachi McMullin set up middle Teo Ardanaz for the kill, and the game was won.

“I never doubted them for a second, even after the rocky start to the opening set,” said Dooley, in a news release issued by the club earlier this week.

• RELATED: Totems win high-school volleyball title

Managing expectations and emotions was key, Dooley added.

“Guys coming in off the bench were critical in helping us to relax and find our rhythm,” he said. “We knew that if we could keep the match tight, our belief in each other… would help us come out on top.

“I can’t say enough about this group of young men; their work ethic, attention to detail, perseverance in the face of adversity, and bonds formed over several years as members of the Seaside family will be an experience that they remember for the rest of their lives.”

Dowhaniuk – who led the Semiahmoo Totems to a provincial high-school championship last fall – was named tournament MVP.

Seaside’s U18 boys victory highlighted an impressive showing for the club at provincials. Seaside’s U17 boys team also competed in the U18 tournament, and won bronze, while the club’s U17 girls team finished fourth in Div. 1, and the U18 girls won bronze in Div. 2.

Provincial tournaments continue for other age groups this spring.

“This has been a fantastic start to provincials for the club,” said Donen.

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