The David Thompson senior girls volleyball team will beat you with the strength of its bench. It’s deep, sure, but the Trojans are dangerous because they’re loud.
They shout, cheer, clap, scream on the court and from the sidelines. They don’t stop all game and on Thursday night at Kitsilano, they drowned out the much more hushed Point Grey Greyhounds to win the city championship by a slim edge 25-23, 21-25, 25-23, 27-25.
“It was a very stressful match,” said the No. 1 East Side Trojans head coach Nelson Yu. “Throughout the whole game it went back and forth.”
Like the stealth horse for which they’re named, the Trojans burrowed into the confidence of their opponent, a much taller and more experienced Point Grey that entered the game weakened by injures.
“They wanted it more than [we] did,” said the Grey Hounds coach, Zach Mason. The Hounds were No. 1 in the West. “We struggled to pass the ball through the match consistently. They out-worked us.”
Four of the Grey Hounds starters are taller than David Thompson’s tallest player, said Yu. The coach prepared the Trojans for this challenge.
“Playing against a tall team is always intimidating. They have a bigger block jump and just a longer reach in general, but throughout the season I had already taught my players about situations where we would be playing against taller teams,” he said. “I still had to make some last minute adjustments for PG.”
The Trojans coach focused on hitting coverage, avoiding predictable attacks down the middle and forcing power and outside hitters to aim for the line and avoid the big middle blocker.
Point Grey won the city title over Kitsilano last year and this season counted three players who measure over six feet. But the tall team was grounded by injuries. They were without a middle hitter and blocker, which moved their attack to the back row and played to the Trojans’ advantage. This adjustment was effective, but didn’t compare to their typical power at the net.
In the fourth and final set, the Trojans went on a 6-1 run down the stretch and Yu was feeling optimistic his team would close down the Hounds.
“At this point I was confident that we had this wrapped up. PG is a great team and they fought back hard and pushed it to 25-24.”
The Hounds had a one-point lead and were serving the ball for set-point to force a fifth and deciding set when Yu went to his bench.
“I was out of timeouts and all I could do was be positive and support my players and trust them to do their job,” he said, “and they did.”
The Trojans won back the serve and Yu subbed in Christina Chan, who nailed two aces from the service line to win the game 27-25.
“At the beginning of the season, their goal was to win cities,” Yu said of the Trojans. “I'm really proud of them for accomplishing this, but it would be a great experience for them to go to the provincials. To qualify for that will be our goal.”
David Thompson heads to the senior girls AAAA Lower Mainland tournament next week as the No. 1 Vancouver seed. The top three finishers advance to provincials.
Point Grey represents Vancouver as the No. 1 public school at the Lower Mainland AAA tournament next week at Little Flower Academy.