It’s official: the blue and white from Ballenas are back in the thick of things in BC High School Sports girls volleyball.
Not to be outdone by their senior counterparts, Ballenas Secondary School’s junior girls volleyball team turned in a strong showing at their district playdowns, where they finished second out of 10 teams and advanced to the North Island finals.
In action at Wellington Secondary in Nanaimo last Friday and Saturday, the Whalers, ranked third going in, finished first in pool play at 4-0.
They dumped Dover Bay 25-18, 25-22 in their quarterfinal Saturday morning, and followed that up with a straight set (25-18, 25-21) win over Barsby, which put them in the tournament final late that afternoon against the NDSS Islanders — the top-ranked junior girls volleyball team on the rock.
According to Whalers’ skipper Daryl Britz, it was the second meeting between the two teams.
“They beat us pretty soundly (back on Oct. 19).”
This time around the Whalers took the first set 25-23, and were leading the second set 21-20 only to end up losing 25-23.
“Ouch is right. It gets worse, unfortunately,” panned the longtime high school coach, explaining how in the third set (to 15).
“We were leading 9-4, and then arguably the best junior girls volleyball player on the Island, and their captain, goes back and serves up six in a row on us. They take a 10-9 lead, we exchange points, and end up losing 15-12 in what was easily the best match of the tournament. Lots of people cheering, lots of long rallies, great digs, great blocks — just all around high level play. It was very exciting,” said Britz, “to the point where the players on the other court playing for third and fourth started watching our game.”
Now 39-7 overall this season, the Whalers are in Comox today (Friday) and tomorrow for the eight-team junior girls North Island finals slated for Mark Isfeld Secondary.
The Whalers are in the same pool as No. 1 from the North, Timberline; No. 3 from the North, Vanier and Barsby.
The top four teams advance to the Island finals slated for Ballenas Secondary School Nov 18-19, and there is no free berth for the home team, which means the Whalers have to earn their way in.
The top two teams from the Islands advance to the provincial championships the following weekend in Richmond.
“They’re playing probably their best volleyball in their life right now — they’re feeling confident,” Britz said proudly when asked about this year’s squad, then made the point, “Ballenas has a pretty rich history of girls volleyball, and they’re living up to that tradition through lots of hard work and dedication. They seem to be peaking at the right time; that said, this group of teams — NDSS, Cedar and ourselves, are unusually strong this year. The power on the Island is definitely in our league so it’s been a bit of a dog fight.