Strong teams expected at PAN Classic

Volleyball tournament returns to Semiahmoo Peninsula this weekend.

An Elgin Park Orcas player makes a play during last year's Peace Arch News Classic tournament. This year's tourney gets underway Friday.

An Elgin Park Orcas player makes a play during last year's Peace Arch News Classic tournament. This year's tourney gets underway Friday.

Some of the province’s top high-school girls volleyball players will compete against one another when the Peace Arch News Classic hits local courts this week.

The annual senior girls tournament – a staple of the Semiahmoo Peninsula volleyball scene for years – hits the court Friday and Saturday, at Semiahmoo and Elgin Park secondaries.

This year’s field will consist of 15 teams – it’s been as high as 28 in years past – including a handful that are highly ranked provincially.

Cloverdale’s Lord Tweedsmuir Panthers and South Surrey’s Elgin Park Orcas are both ranked inside the top-10 of the provincial 4A rankings, and other teams vying for a tournament title will include Argyle (North Vancouver), Walnut Grove (Langley), Holy Cross and Semiahmoo, among others.

“We’re a little smaller than some years because there’s just so much competition with other tournaments now, but there are a lot of strong teams coming,” said tournament organizer Gord Houchen, who also coaches Clayton Heights Secondary’s senior girls team.

“It should be very competitive.”

Last year’s tournament was won by one of the host squads, as Elgin Park – who were ranked sixth in B.C. 4A rankings at the time – defeated Lambrick Park in the championship game.

The tournament tips off Friday afternoon, with two of the top conteners, Elgin and Tweedsmuir, squaring off at 2 p.m. at Elgin Park. Down the road at Semiahmoo Secondary, the host Totems will play Coquitlam’s Centennial Secondary, also at 2 p.m.

The playoff rounds will begin at 9 a.m. Saturday, with games scheduled throughout the day and culminating with the championship final at 4:45 p.m. at Semiahmoo.