By Bob Carter
Dover Bay is hardly an imposing team with only four players above 6 feet, none above 6-3. The Dolphins certainly have been a winning team, though, one that has earned the top seed and a place in Friday’s AAA quarterfinals in Langley.
They have played numerous close matches, showing a knack for big plays in crucial situations. And their coach, Josie Webb, loves them.
“Our defense has improved so much,” Webb said. “We’re relaxed on our passes, we play as a team, not nervously, and the boys really came together this season. They play for each other.”
Dover Bay, which will play two-time defending champ Earl Marriott in a morning quarterfinal, entered the tournament as the No. 2 team behind Kelowna but moved up a spot by winning the top pool on Wednesday.
Webb said her team seems to handle pressure situations well and has shown the ability to overcome deficits, even six or seven-point ones. Late in close matches, the Dolphins’ huddle is all about positive thinking.
“We never use a negative word,” Webb said. “We talk about the things we can do better, but I always emphasize what we’re doing well first. We don’t want them to be stressed out, want to keep them calm throughout.”
The Dolphins are led by hitters Jeff Webb, the coach’s son, and Quinn Mirau and setter Nathan Ziemanski.
Dover Bay advanced by beating Riverside 25-16, 26-24, 25-18.
The Dolphins split two matches this season with Marriott, losing 2-1 in the MEI tournament and winning 3-0 at the Oak Bay tournament. EMS advanced by beating Walnut Grove in three straight sets.
Fourth-seeded Oak Bay, meanwhile, made it to Friday’s quarters with a four-set win over Surrey Christian. The Barbers, though, didn’t play as well as the day before when they won the second pool.
“Too many unforced errors,” said coach Al Carmichael, “but we’ll tighten them up.”
He said the team is trying to return to the form it showed in the Islands tournament, where it lost a tough five-setter to Dover Bay in the final.
Second seed Moscrop played its entire roster in a four-set victory over Mount Baker. The Panthers didn’t play their best game but displayed some exceptional defense in running off 11 straight points to close out the second set 25-21.
“We pride ourselves on our defense,” coach David Tam said, “and strong blocking.”
Tam, in his second year heading the senior team, said Jerry Yan, Alex Ristic, Sandeep Moore and setter Justin Yee have been big contributors this season.
The Panthers will meet Van Tech Friday, a team they have gone 2-0 against.
Kelowna, which dropped from first to the fifth seed after losing all three of its pool matches, beat Reynolds 3-0 on Thursday.
“We need one more step to get back to the way we were playing,” coach Mike Sodaro said. “But it was nice to see smiles back on their faces.”
Mount Boucherie and Fraser Heights also won and will face off in another quarterfinal Friday.