What a whirlwind of a provincial tournament for the Vancouver champion Eric Hamber Griffins senior boys volleyball team last week in Kelowna. The Lower Mainland zone's number two ranked team started the 20-team provincial tournament on a positive note, winning two of three round robin matches, but it was discovered later that evening one of the starters had been left off the scoresheets for those matches, resulting in the forfeiture of all three matches.
Undaunted, the 11th-ranked Griffins defeated the fifth-ranked Elgin Park Orcas from White Rock in a five-set thriller to advance to the quarter-finals for the second consecutive year, a feat that no Vancouver team has accomplished in almost 30 years. The win was the second largest upset in tournament history, and pitted Hamber against the number two ranked and Fraser Valley champions Fraser Heights. The Griffins fought valiantly but dropped a 3-0 decision to the eventual bronze medalist Firehawks.
Hamber then polished off two straight victories, against the sixth-placed and North Central champions North Peace Ooks 2-0 and the hometown number four ranked and Okanagan champions Kelowna Owls 2-0 to finish in fifth place, the second highest finish by a team from Vancouver in 30 years and the highest since David Thompson's bronze medal finish two years ago. Setter Calvin Chang was named to the Second Team All-Stars, while leftside Shawn Yu was recognized as an honourable mention.
Vancouver Technical Talismen, Vancouver's other entry at the provincial championships and Lower Mainland zone champions, travelled a different road in Kelowna, while still achieving the school's highest finish in history at the tournament. The number eight ranked Talismen won one of three matches in pool play (losing the other two in three sets and by a mere two points in both matches) and were drawn against the number nine ranked Mt. Boucherie Bears of Westside. As described by zone MVP Markiel Simpson, Van Tech played its "worst match of the year," and were easily dispatched 3-0 (25-13, 25-16, 26-24). The loss was very disappointing, as this team had won the bronze medal at the junior boys provincial championships two years ago, and had high hopes in Kelowna this season. However, as their resiliency has shown all year, Van Tech was able to come back and win their next three matches, against the number 16 ranked and Kootenay champions Mt. Baker 2-1, the number 10 ranked Kelly Road Roadrunners from Prince George 2-0, and Elgin Park 2-1, avenging a loss to the Orcas in pool play and securing a ninth place and consolation round championship for the Talismen, whose previous highest finish had been 11th.
The rise in positive results from Vancouver teams in the past few years can be attributed to the increased popularity in boys volleyball through the club system, which has in turn made the quality of volleyball in the city much stronger compared to the rest of the province. Vancouver schools had four teams ranked provincially at one point this year. In previous years, there was usually just one or two.
Ranked number one all season, Oak Bay of Victoria won the AAA gold medal, defeating number three ranked Earl Marriott of South Surrey 3-0. Number one ranked MEI of Abbotsford defeated number three College Heights of Prince George 3-2 (21-25, 23-25, 25-16, 25-19, 15-9) to win the AA championships.