It’s a level of competition you won’t see in any high school provincial championship.
Divided by tiers, but playing on the same courts this weekend, top double-A and triple-A senior boys volleyball squads in the province are meeting in the Okanagan.
The 16-team Coyote Classic in Winfield, hosted by George Elliot Secondary School today and Saturday, also includes past provincial champions. For the Duchess Park Condors and College Heights Cougars, the only Prince George representatives in the competition, this weekend marks their last opportunity to significantly alter the provincial double-A rankings before provincials next month.
Included in this weekend’s draw is MEI of Abbotsford, among the top volleyball programs this year and the 2007 senior boys double-A provincial champions. Last year’s double-A runner-up, Langley Christian, is also participating.
At the triple-A level, the competition includes the likes of the Penticton High School senior boys team, which is the defending provincial champion. Kelowna, ranked first and second in the triple-A circuit throughout this season, is also among the list of teams.
Even a top squad from Alberta, Harry Ainley of Edmonton, has entered the competition. Harry Ainley is one of the top ranked quadruple-A teams in Alberta.
The 2008 B.C. senior boys volleyball double-A provincials are slated for Nov. 26 to Dec. 1 in Kelowna. Both the Condors and Cougars plan on being there.
With both the Condors and Cougars ranked among the top-10 double-A schools in B.C., it appears as though the battle for the North Central District title is a two-horse race. With a second place finish and close defeat at the hands of the Cougars in last weekend’s championship game of a tournament at Kelly Road, the D.P. Todd Trojans are trying to prove they belong in that class as well.
In the match, held on Saturday evening, the Cougars edged the Trojans 2-1 (25-16, 24-26, 18-16).
“I’m on part of the ranking committee and one of the things myself and the other ranker from Correlieu say is that DP Todd could be that darkhorse,” Cougars head coach Jay Guillet said. “If you’re not prepared enough to play them, they could have one of those games and they will out-perform you.”
The competition within the boys double-A circuit in Prince George appears to have risen, with Duchess Park and College Heights sporting a lot of Grade 12 players in their lineups.
“A lot of people don’t know this but DP Todd has the majority of their team back from last year as well,” Guillet said. “Competition is great this year. It was good last year but you give these kids another year and now they’re Grade 12, and they’re even better.”
In Saturday’s final, College Heights was losing by a few points and needed to regroup late in the game. Guillet called a timeout.
“I stayed pretty calm throughout the whole thing with the guys. You play teams a number of times, they start figuring some things out and what you do, and I’m sure DP Todd wanted to have some success against us,” he said. “When you have success against teams, sometimes you sit back a bit, and I just told the kids to keep focusing on the process. Don’t focus on the end result because if you focus on the end result than you forget the things you need to be doing. We’re a good team and we’re very capable of having success against other teams.”
Other teams participating in the Kelly Road competition were the host Roadrunners squad, Caledonia (Terrace), Peter Skene Ogden (100 Mile House), Correlieu (Quesnel), Quesnel and Cedars.
Duchess Park is slated to host a tournament of its own on Oct. 31 and Nov. 1. College Heights is playing host to the double-A zone championship, scheduled for Nov. 14 and 15.