By Bob Carter
Chris Frehlick’s reputation as a straight shooter loses no credibility when the George Elliot boys volleyball coach talks about his top-ranked AA Coyotes. No false, downplaying tactics here.
“I’ve never had, or it’s been a long time since I’ve had, a team with this many good players,” Frehlick said. “They’re playing like veterans.”
The Coyotes jumped from fourth to first in the rankings in mid-October after winning the Gold division at the perennially strong Best of the West tournament in Kelowna. They went 6-1 that weekend, beating then No. 3 College Heights 2-1 in the final.
George Elliot followed the title two weeks later with a second-place finish at the Thompson Rivers tournament. The Lake Country school lost 2-1 in that final to powerful Earl Marriott, top-ranked in AAA.
The Coyotes placed seventh, seventh and sixth the past three years in the Kahunaverse Sports BC Championships, but their success this season didn’t catch Frehlick by surprise.
“I knew we were in the mix,” he said.
Frehlick said the the team has eight players who are “big-time contributors,” all Grade 12s except for power Roan McCarthy, a 6-4 Grade 11 and brother of former GESS standout Fynn McCarthy, now playing professionally in France. Roan got considerable playing time last year.
“He’s completely different than his brother,” Frehlick said. “Fynn was a ‘freak,’ definitely more of a physical player. Roan is more skillful, more polished at this juncture. He’s one who has CIS potential.”
The Coyotes may get a post-season lift from Ben Magel, a 5-11 left side who has fought a troublesome back issue. Magel, an excellent passer, played with pain last year, Frehlick said, and was told he couldn’t spike all of this season.
But Magel eventually visited the UBC Sports Medicine staff and got the go-ahead to play, starting in the back row but working his way back to the front where he recently resumed spiking.
Setter Matt Darley, who played about half-time last year, is setting full-time this season and putting in extra work in the gym.
“He’s very athletic, fast,” Frehlick said. “He can get to all the balls. He’s a good leader, running a good show.”
Two of the team’s taller players are middles Tom Parish and Garrett Anderson, both 6-4. “Both are getting the job done as hitters and blockers,” Frehlick said.
All in all, the Coyotes, who host their annual tournament Nov. 2-3, have been playing solid defence and transitioning well to their attack.
“If a team doesn’t really hammer the ball against us,” Frehlick said, “they’re not going to score.”
Elliot beats College Heights for gold: George Elliot won its own tournament over this weekend Nov 2-3rd, defeating College Heights in the final 3-1. The Coyotes rallied from a 2-1 deficit in the semifinals to beat Abby Christian 3-2.
The tournament, whose matches were all best 3-out-of-5, had a 16-team bracket with no pool play.
The top five finishers: 1, George Elliot; 2, College Heights; 3, Abby Christian; 4, Langley Christian; and 5, Kelowna.