Athletics Review: Wild Cards and Jesters

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Sports lingo is strange. References to spikes, stuffs, fools and something called a “roll out nick” (does someone want to explain that one?) puts a picture in our minds. Each week our coaches/writers deliver us to the court and pitch, and this week is no exception.

Senior Girls Volleyball
by Melanie Masson, coach

The Senior girls volleyball team competed in the AA Girls Volleyball Island Championships hosted at SMUS this past weekend. The team entered the tournament ranked fourth and needed to finish in the top three for a chance to extend their season at the AA Girls Volleyball Provincial Championships.

SMUS played well in pool play on Friday with only one close loss to Cedar, 12-15, in three sets, placing them second in their pool. In playoff action on Saturday morning SMUS defeated St Margaret’s quite confidently in the quarter-final and advanced to the semi-final. The team was matched up with the number one seed, Lambrick Park, and after an epic two-hour and 15-minute five-set match, the SMUS girls fell just short of the Island Final and a berth to Provincials. Both teams played extremely impressive volleyball and SMUS played the best defensively that they have all season. It was an on court battle in the most important game of the season for both teams.

After this very emotional loss, SMUS regrouped and played for the bronze in a rematch against Cedar. The team won the bronze as well as a spot in the Wild Card Challenge next weekend on the mainland. Sophia Ducharme was named to the Island Championship Tournament All Star team.

Lambrick Park reclaimed their Island Championship for the second year in a row, defeating Brentwood in a four set final. Lambrick Park and Brentwood will enter the AA Girls Volleyball Provincial Championships as the first and second seeds from the Island, SMUS will advance to the Wild Card Challenge next weekend and Cedar will enter the Provincial Tournament as the host.

Thanks to all of those who supported the girls in the stands this weekend as well as a huge thank you to all of the scorekeepers, line keepers and concession workers for all of their dedication to making this weekend a huge success.

Squash
by Chris Hanebury, coach


A video highlight package of the tournament shot and edited by Chris Hanebury.

Four members of the Senior School squash team traveled to Calgary over the weekend to compete in the Alberta Junior Jesters, one of Canada’s core tournaments that attracts Canada’s top junior players.

Janel Gaube won her first two matches in convincing fashion. She lost her semi-final match and then came up just a little shy in a five-game battle for third place.

“I learned that keeping your focus is very hard and it is such a big part of the game at this level,” said Janel after her fourth place finish. “I need to get better at it.”

In his semi-final match, Gavin Maxwell ended up on the wrong side of one of the closest and most exciting matches of the tournament. He was tied at nine in the fifth and deciding game when his opponent accidentally hit the back wall with his racquet resulting in a perfect roll out nick! After a 10-minute delay while Gavin’s opponent bandaged a cut knee, he faced match point at 10-9. Gavin won this rally to tie the match at 10, but two superb winners snatched the fifth and deciding game away from SMUS, 12-10. Gavin came back strong in his final match, winning in straight games and claiming 3rd place.

Jason Yoo had a difficult draw. He faced one of the top seeds in his first round and lost in a competitive match. He then dropped into the consolation and played impressive squash winning three straight matches, and the consolation.

Having just moved up divisions last week, Arden Mollenhauer played her first under 19 tournament. She had to play some of the top junior girls in Canada and held her own. This provided some excellent experience for Arden and the whole group heading into the Canadian Junior Open in early December.

Janel Gaube, Gavin Maxwell, Jason Yoo, Arden Mollenhauer and Michael Rossi are all registered for the Canadian Junior Open from December 8-12 in Ontario.

Junior Girls Volleyball
by Benson Young, coach

The team competed in the “A” City Finals earlier this month. The top eight teams in the eighteen team league qualified and SMUS was placed in a four team pool with Oak Bay, Pacific Christian “A”, and Mount Doug at Oak Bay High School. Playing PCS in the first match, the girls came out strong and took the first set from strong serving and good transition play leading to spikes. Unfortunately, PCS clawed back in the second set; however, we won the match based on total points. Oak Bay was a tougher opponent in their home gym and although there were some long rallies, the home team prevailed in two straight sets.

With a superior playoff seeding on the line, the girls needed to beat Mount Doug to finish second in their pool. Strong serving from everyone and some timely kills from Emily Hooton, Yvonne Wu and Jennifer Shan put SMUS over the top in both sets. Going home for the Saturday playoffs, we were in good position in the cross-over to make the semi-finals.

In a hot gym and after a strong warm-up, the girls used aggressive serving and strong finishes on their third contacts to put a lot of pressure on the Reynolds defense. SMUS took the first set, but the second set was highly competitive. With a different line-up to start the set and a more focused opponent, each point was hotly contested. Reynolds took the second set and in the third set the first team to fifteen points decided a semi-final berth. Some tense moments, including missed serves from both sides and less than aggressive third contacts really made it a nail-biter. SMUS prevailed 15-13 with the winning point coming from a great free ball pass by Cindy Kim. Flora-Manson Blair put a good high ball for Emily Hooton and she crushed the ball with conviction into the Reynolds back row where there was no defender.

The semi-final against Claremont was a tough match for the girls. Against a dominant middle-blocker and great setter to run their offense, SMUS was up against it. After Claremont dominated the first set, the girls put up more of a fight in the second set. A match highlight had to be Jennifer Shan’s stuff blocks on two key points. However, the stronger team prevailed and SMUS had to play against Oak Bay for the final berth to the Island Championships.

After a nervous start in the first set, Oak Bay took full advantage. Despite some great libero play by Sarah Loughton under huge pressure, and some decent serving, SMUS was unable to create much of a threat against the Oak Bay defense in the first set. The team shook off their nervousness and came out with all guns blazing in the second set. Defensively, the team did not let the ball hit the ground as witnessed by some amazing digs and saves by Sarah Hagkull, Cindy Kim and Flora Manson-Blair. Although the SMUS offense was not at its best, critical kills by power hitters Emily Hooton and Sarah Hagkull really put the pressure on the now nervous Oak Bay team. Strong, consistent serves, especially from the middles, Keeley Copeland and Jennifer Shan, put the girls over the top and SMUS won the second set 25-21. After a controversial delay initiated by Oak Bay, SMUS put this aside and continued to commit to defense and being aggressive. Playing close to the best volleyball they have all year wasn’t enough and Oak Bay prevailed by three points.

Although very disappointing, SMUS athletes showed significant development in many areas, both individually and as a team. The fourth place finish was better than the 9th place finish last year, and most importantly, the team played well in defeat and gave it their best effort. This is ultimately all the coaches can ask for at the end of the day. The top three teams, Belmont, Claremont and Oak Bay are all AAA or AAAA schools in size so the girls did well to compete against these schools. Against Lambrick Park, a quality AA school on the south island, the team split three sets of matches with them in exhibition play this season. I look forward to seeing the athletes continue with their volleyball next fall season!

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