For the fifth consecutive year, the Point Grey Greyhounds reached the senior girls volleyball city championship. For the third year since 2009, they weren’t settling for second-best.
The Hounds, led by provincial team players five-foot-eleven Taeya Page and six-foot-one Carolin Hicks, dropped the first set of their entire league season, but bounced back to defeat the Eric Hamber Griffins 3-1 on Nov. 1 at Prince of Wales secondary.
An excitable and focused Hamber side came out stronger than Point Grey expected, said Point Grey’s coach Zack Mason.
“The team — including myself — was somewhat surprised at Hamber’s level of play,” he wrote in an email to the Courier. “We came up against them in the first game of our regular season and dispatched of them very comfortably, so kudos to them and their coach for coming such a long way and improving so much. That was the only set we have lost all season so we were thrown off a little.”
The Griffin’s loss to Point Grey Sept. 26 marked only the second time they’d been in the same room this season.
“We are very proud to say that the game played on Friday against Point Grey was much different,” said Hamber’s coach Alisha Compton. “The girls earned second place and qualified for Lower Mainlands by building off each other’s strengths and pushing each other to get better. It’s rare to find a group of high school girls that support each other the way these girls do.”
The Hounds, ranked No. 7 among B.C. AAA teams, dropped back in the first set recovered to tie at 24 points apiece. (The first team to reach 25 points wins, but must have two points more than their opponent.)
With a 28-27 lead, Hamber’s Pascale Highan-Leisen fired a hard serve to the back of the court for an ace and the set point.
Highan-Leisen, a Grade 11 power hitter, lifted the Griffins to a 3-2 comeback win over Killarney in the semi-final.
Compton also praised the Griffins’ captain Lea Separovic, “who was able to get around Point Grey’s attentive defense and score under pressure” and setter Brittany Chung, “who remained consistent and adapted to the needs of her team throughout the tournament.”
Point Grey regrouped after dropping behind.
“The team was able to calm down, get more comfortable and get into the groove, which lead to more consistent play for the rest of the match,” said Mason. “I was really glad to see Point Grey shrug off that first set and turn things around, which is a testament to the level of experience several of these players have.”
The Hounds’ attack was short Taeya Page, a dominant Grade 11 hitter, because of an injury. “Outside hitters Carolin Hicks and Saya Engleson were instrumental in keeping offensive pressure on Hamber’s defense and were responsible for the majority of our kills,” said the coach. “Middle blockers Natalie McCann and Ali L'Heureux performed well defensively and also contributed offensively from the middle when needed.”
This is the third title in five years for Point Grey. They won the city championship in 2009 when they beat Gladstone. The next year they relinquished the title to Gladstone but won again in 2011 over Kitsilano the, in 2012, lost a close, thrilling match to David Thompson.
Point Grey and Hamber both advance to the Lower Mainland zone tournament.
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