It’s shaping up to be a banner year for Ballenas Secondary School’s junior girls volleyball team.
Currently 11-1 and sitting second in their 13-team league, the Whaler girls are 29-4 overall with four tournaments under their belts. In recent tournament play, the Whalers finished seventh out of 20 teams at the VIU Invitational. They only lost one set and finished first at the Ballenas Invitational, then finished fourth out of eight teams at the Belmont Open.
The big news was their showing in Victoria last weekend.
A huge mid-season litmus test, the tournament featured the top three teams from Victoria (Lambrick Park, Belmont, and Claremont) and the two top teams from the North (NDSS and Ballenas), all in the same tournament.
The Whalers went undefeated without dropping a set to claim the tournament title and sent a message to their counterparts they mean business this year.
Ballenas opened the tourney Friday by beating the Claremont Spartans 25-12, 25-23.
A busy day on the courts, the Whalers followed that up with wins over Aspengrove (25-12, 25-9), and Spectrum (25-18, 25-20).
Against Victoria’s top seeded Lambrick Park Lions in a battle of unbeatens for pool dominance, the Whalers took the first set 25-17, but the win came at a cost as starting middle blocker Shae Peachey was injured.
Not to worry, said Whalers’ coach Daryl Britz, “our Grade 9 rookie Mariah St. Pierre comes in and does a great job and we win 28-26.”
Securing first in their pool earned the Whalers a bye and into Saturday’s semifinals against No. 2 from the south Belmont.
The blue and white rolled to another straight set win (25-18, 26-24), and advanced to the final against Lambrick Park.
“Our girls came to play,” said Britz, as the Whalers swept the best of three 25-16, 25-22 for their second tournament win of the year.
Earning extra props from their coach were middle blockers, Nicole Lublinkhof, who had five blocks in the first set alone, and Shaelyn Peachey, who had five kills and the biggest block of the day, “and turned the second set around in game two.”
Power hitters Celine Tardif and Aly Gould had six kills apiece in the match and kept the Lions on their heels.
Ballenas’ two right side players, Allanah Jimmo and Mariah St. Pierre, shared the duties and both had timely kills and big blocks against Lambrick’s two best players.
Brittany Britz ran the offence to perfection at the setter position, “using all available weapons and keeping the Lambrick blockers confused and guessing.”
“Britzy” was selected as one of six Tournament All-Stars for her great play.
Rock solid coming off the bench all weekend and cheering their hearts out and keeping the team loose when not playing were middle blocker Breanne Harvey, power hitter Tyra McNichol, and the injured Kaila Parhar who is expected back early next week.
Next up for the Jr. Whalers is league play at Barsby. The Whalers return home to BSS for a leaguer, then have an exhibition match on Friday Oct. 28 at Ballenas against the No. 1 ranked NDSS Islanders starting at 3:15 p.m.
The District playdowns go Nov. 4-5 at Wellington Secondary in Nanaimo. The top four teams advance to the North Islands at Mark Isfeld in Comox on Nov. 11-12,. The top four teams there move on to the Island championships at BSS Nov. 18-19. The top two teams at the Islands earn a berth in the Provincials slated for Nov. 24-26 in Langley.