The Ballenas Whalers junior girls volleyball team is heading to the provincial championships in Surrey, Nov. 25-26.
The Whalers fell short of clinching the gold medal after losing a close match in three sets to Brentwood College in the final of the Island championships on Tuesday, Nov. 8.
Both teams met in pool play with the Whalers prevailing 2-0 (26-24, 26-24) in a closely contested game. The final was no different. It was another barn-burner. They split the first two sets with Brentwood taking the first 25-23 and the Whalers squaring things up with a 25-15 win in the second. But in the tiebreaker third set, Brentwood proved slightly stronger and won 15-9 for the set and match, and first place at the Islands.
“Our games against Brentwood have been great enjoyable battles,” said head coach Steve Dorsay. “They have a lot of talent just as we do. These games could have gone either way. We have demonstrated excellence in volleyball whether we are first or second on all of Vancouver Island.”
On their way to the gold-medal game, the Whalers survived a three-settter against Oak Bay 2-1, beat Cowichan Secondary in the quarterfinals 2-0, and stopped St. Michael’s in the semifinals 2-0 to secure their spot in the final.
The top four teams on the Islands to advance to the provincials are Brentwood, Ballenas, third-place finisher Nanaimo District, and fourth placer Mark Isfeld.
The last time Ballenas Whalers junior girls made it to the provincials was 10 years ago.
“They also finished second in the Islands that year,” said Dorsay. “It is again an honour to be involved with a group of volleyball players that have worked hard to be contenders in the top 24 teams in the B.C. provincials.”
The Whalers are not going to rest on their laurels and will continue to hone their game to prepare for the provincials.
“We will continue to work on repetitions to improve serve receive, serving and all other skills,” said Dorsay. “Muscle memory is key to success and we keep demonstrating greater habits.”
Dorsay commended his players for living up to the challenge of playing against teams they have never played before.
“Their mental capabilities are exceptional,” said Dorsay. “As all players and teams make mistakes our girls are able to simply say ‘next’ and be ready for the serve.”
Two Whalers stood out at the Islands, setter Koli Kitazaki and hitter Haley Spetch, who were both named to the all-star team.
The Whalers girls will also be out trying to raise funds to cover expenses for their trip to the provincials. They need at least $3,000 and are looking for financial contributions. If anyone is able to help the Whalers out, they can contact the school or Beth Atkinson at email@example.com.