By Bob Carter
Langley — Dover Bay regained its balance after blowing a 2-0 sets lead and edged Walnut Grove in a five-set thriller Friday morning at the Big Kahuna BC Volleyball Championships.
The fourth-seeded Dolphins won 25-19, 25-15, 21-25, 21-25, 15-13 to advance to Friday night’s AAA semifinals at the Langley Events Centre.
They’ll face top-seeded Kelowna, which defeated No. 9 Reynolds in four sets.
The Dolphins, who won the bronze medal last year, had to overcome a huge height disadvantage. As Walnut Grove’s front-row strength — 6-8 Andrew Goertzen, 6-5 Brett Christensen and 6-3 Ben Witon — started to amplify in sets 3 and 4, Dover Bay’s aggressive hitting slowed.
“I’m glad they found it in the fifth game,” Dover coach Shawn Owen said. “It was a perseverance win for sure.”
The Dolphins couldn’t have done it without their grade 12 setter, Isaac Bevis.
“He’s very controlled,” Owen said. “Because he spreads the ball around so well you can’t key in on any one player. You have to play us straight ahead.”
Dover Bay jumped to a 5-2 lead in the fifth, but the No. 5 Gators quickly rebounded to go up 8-7. The game then went back and forth until the Dolphins broke from a tie at 13 to win on kills by Owen Frey and middle Josh Mitchell.
Kelowna had a bit easier time, though the Owls also had to steady themselves. After winning the first two sets against Reynolds, 25-14 and 25-20, they got sloppy with their ballhandling and the Roadrunners’ Markeith Thonger kept pounding away at them.
Reynolds built a big lead in taking the third set, 25-21, throwing a little unease into the Owls.
“I told them that it’s tough to win in three straight at this level,” Kelowna coach Mike Sodaro said. “It was a wake-up call. They regrouped very nicely.”
KSS struck early in the fourth, building a 9-1 lead, and Reynolds got no closer than four the rest of the way in taking the set 25-15.
Captain Justin Peleshytyk led the way for Kelowna with another strong, versatile game.
“He really showed he can play at a different level and keep hitting,” Sodaro said.