Defending AAA champion Earl Marriott kept its habit this week of losing the first set, but the Mariners also stuck with their bottom-line habit of prevailing. The end result on Friday afternoon was a four-set victory over GP Vanier and a night-time spot in the semifinals against Oak Bay.
“It’s like a batter taking the first strike,” coach Bob Smith joked.
Then turning more serious, he said his players “felt pretty comfortable about coming back.” Smith said Braedon Montgomery had a strong match and “started to get his groove back” and Justin Faester, Eric Lee and Evan Bell-Foley also had good performances. The Mariners have gone 2-0 against Oak Bay, winning two straight in the Capilano tournament and 2-1 in Wednesday’s top-pool round robin match. Oak Bay dropped the first two sets against Gladstone but rallied for a long five-set victory. Coach Al Carmichael praised Gladstone’s systematic approach, discipline, overall skill and defensive prowess and said it was the closest match his team had had this year.
“We had to switch up our serving, going shorter, to disrupt their strong middle game,” he said. “And their defence was playing so well we knew we had to attack with more power. We started getting hard rips on the ball.”