By Bob Carter
Langley — Fraser Valley rivals Semiahmoo and Seaquam survived five-set battles Friday to gain the AAA semifinals at the Big Kahuna BC Volleyball Championships.
They’ll square off Friday night for the chance to play in the finals Saturday.
The second-seeded Totems nearly wasted a dominating start against 10th seed Earl Marriott, another FV team.
After the young Mariners lost the first two sets, 15 and 13, they came to life, taking sets 3 and 4 by scores of 25-22, 27-25.
“We lost our energy, and they got momentum,” Semi standout Michael Dowhaniuk said. “We got down on ourselves a little for making errors.”
Semi, the Fraser Valley zone champ, then started slowly in the fifth as grade 11 Malachi McMullin led Marriott to a 6-3 lead.
But the Totems rallied to tie at 9-9 and Dowhaniuk, another grade 11, came through late with three key hits, showing great control not to overhit with the match on the line.
“I wanted to keep the ball in play,” he said. “You don’t want to make a mistake and let your team down.”
In the last quarterfinal to finish, two smaller teams matched similar keep-the-ball-alive styles.
Sixth-seeded Seaquam also built a 2-0 sets lead only to see it vanish when Killarney, the 14th seed, roared back to tie.
The Cougars had registered the tournament’s biggest upset the day before, a five-set, rallying win over No. 3 Van Tech, and looked ready to do it again.
Seaquam coach Leanne Chow said she and her team had seen Killarney’s comeback against Tech.
“I told them it’s not really about skill at this point,” Chow said. “You’ve got to play from the heart. You have to play through pressure.”
So when Killarney took two sets, 27-25 and 25-21, to tie the match and then threatened to run away with the fifth set, Seaquam steadied itself.
Down 10-5, Chow called a timeout, and the Seahawks scored four straight points. Trailing 12-10, they ran off the next five for a combined 10-2 run and a 15-12 victory.
James Davidson and Kurt Ruffini got the big hits in the fifth set for Seaquam, Kris Espezel contributed a key block, and libero Elijah St. Germain sparked the defence.
“We’re used to battling,” Chow said. “We don’t have much of a volleyball culture at Seaquam, not the culture of winning.”
After finishing third in the Fraser Valley playoffs and now making the semifinals at the BC’s, that might all be changing.