LANGLEY- Mike Jamieson
2019 AAA Senior Boys Volleyball Provincial Gold Medal Game
Earl Marriott Mariners (#1 rank) Vs Kelowna Owls (#2 rank)
Earl Marriott vs Kelowna. Heavyweight vs Heavyweight.
It had all the glitz and glamour a high school sport could ask for. Two twins, seeking their third straight provincial championship (junior, senior, senior). How do you stop a freight train of experience and excellence? Enter the number two ranked Kelowna Owls and their decades of dominance in high school athletics. Hot off their Friday night win in the semi-finals over the Claremont Spartans, the Owls were seeking to play the upset card Saturday night.
The lights dimmed, the crowd was anxious. Energy was everywhere. The Langley Events Centre was primed for a show. Kelowna came out fast and Kelowna came out often, twice getting leads of four points in the first set. Each time, the Mariners answered. In the crucial moments late in the first set the Owls willed themselves to victory. Braden White, the Kelowna setter had his offence running at full pace. Kelowna took the first set 25-19.
How would the Mariners respond? With the dominance that has defined a generation of volleyball for boys across this province. 25-14, 25-11, 25-14. Every bounce seemed to go their way. Maybe that’s just what happens when you pair Talon and Takoda McMullin with the sharp shooting sets of Josh Quiring. Quiring seemed to be a step ahead for most of the night.
Kelowna Owls head coach Mike Sodaro
“It’s tough, we came out strong and we played a great first game. We knew they weren’t going to back down. They came out and started thundering balls, putting up a big block like we expected. We didn’t expect them to come out that strong in game three. They earned it.’ Sodaro, a high school volleyball icon ‘I’m so happy for our guys. It’s a silver medal. It’s something you’ll remember for the rest of your life.”
Earl Marriott Mariners head coach Dale Quiring
“I’ve said it all season, I’m so proud of these boys. They’re so disciplined, they’re patient when things don’t go our way. They still keep it together, they stay strong mentally. We really focused on the mental game this year.”
The win was Earl Marriott’s second straight BC Senior Boys High School Volleyball Provincial Championship.
They were always the best.
The AA Bronze match showcased Abbotsford Christian (ranked 3) vs George Elliot (ranked 4) – a retake on last year’s Provincial final. George Elliot came into this match after, what they might call, a let down performance against Langley Christian the night before- where the team made a number of unforced errors. GESS head coach Chris Frehlick,
“We didn’t deserve to be in the final based on the way we played yesterday.”
Abby Christian also had higher aspiration hopes in their tournament finish as they had played well against MEI in some of their early season meetings. However, it was not to be.
So the two volleyball teams found themselves playing in a bronze game- and perhaps- for those who have participated in one- the bronze game can be a tough match to be excited for. Both teams wishing they were in the gold match rather than their current situation. There is still a medal on the line- it still means something- it just takes time to process a loss less than 24 hours later.
During the match itself- it looks like the teams are trying to be excited – it is just tough to get the energy up. Coaches are trying to get them going, players are trying to get going. There is an exchange of good plays but nobody is getting too pumped up.
George Elliot just seemed to run out of gas in the fifth set and Abby Christian finishes with a 15-6 win. Congrats to both teams for solid seasons.
Coach Anthony Janzen on the win,
“we went through a bunch of emotions tonight….I think we maintained our game longer than they (George Elliot) did.”
The 3A Bronze medal game between Claremont Spartans and Okanagan-Mission Huskies was a match-up between the number three and seventh ranked teams respectively as they were entering the tournament. On the big stage and on the big court- as the match played out- it looked like OKM showed some youthful nerves as a team. On the other hand, Claremont looked like a team that wanted revenge for a loss from the previous night’s exciting close semi-final. Claremont’s coach Shon Ryan, ”
“KSS was a tough loss but nice for us to bounce back today. It’s a tough game to win….There was a lot of disappointment last night but today we were pretty focused….It’s not what we were hoping for but I’m proud of the guys….It’s a great group.”
Claremont really dominated at every aspect of the match and deserved the convincing victory 3-0.
“I thought we improved a lot. Our passing started out shaky but got a lot better.”
“Being from the island we don’t get as many great reps but when we came here it just upped our compete level.”
OKM veteran coach Paul Thiessen commented after his team’s loss on the match,
“We are a young team… I have 11 players that are in grade 10 or 11, and only 1 grade 12…. We are making the right steps, we are not there yet, but there is a lot of learning going on out there.”
See the fully interview in the link below:
By Gary Ahuja
All that is standing in the way of the Kelowna Owls’ first AAA provincial volleyball championship in 66
years is an Earl Marriott Mariners program on a dominant three-year run.
In 2017, the Mariners were 38-0 and captured the junior boys provincial title. After graduating to the
senior ranks, the core of that team helped Earl Marriott win the senior boys crown in 2018. And this
season, the Mariners entered as the top seed among the 20 teams at the 3A 2019 BC Secondary School
Volleyball Provincial Championships.
On Saturday at 5 p.m., the No. 1 Mariners face the No. 2 Kelowna Owls for the gold medal as four days
of volleyball comes to a close at Langley Events Centre.
The Mariners were 3-0 (25-23,25-22,27-25) winners over the No. 7 Okanagan Mission Huskies while the
Owls held off the No. 3 Claremont Spartans 3-1 (16-25,25-20,26-24,25-17).
Since dropping the opening set on day one of the provincial tournament to Claremont during pool play,
the Mariners have responded by winning their past 15 sets to earn a spot in the gold-medal game.
“When we are dialed in and locked in, we are a hard team to beat,” said Mariners coach Dale Quiring. “When the chips are down, we just stick together.”
Friday’s semifinal was a perfect example as they were down before rallying for the 25-23 win.
“We maintained a positive attitude and we were dialed and locked in. And they didn’t give up. Even
when we were down in the first set – I think we were down five or six points – they just kept hammering
at it. And that is the discipline and stamina of this team. They just stay focused.”
On the other side of the draw, the Owls suffered a nine-point loss in their opening set before stringing
together three straight sets to take the match. The Spartans made a push in the fourth set, but Kelowna
held on for the 26-24 win and then began the fourth and final set with six straight points (all of serves)
to close the match out 25-17.
Owls coach Mike Sodaro said a realistic goal at the start of the season for his squad was a spot in the
semifinals. Now they have their eyes on a bigger prize: the program’s first championship since 1953.
Kelowna has come close with six second-place finishes, including three straight defeats in the 2012 to
2014 title games, and again in 2016. Both the 2013 and 2014 losses came at the hands of Earl Marriott.
This year’s team has nine Grade 12, five of whom have played senior for Sodaro since Grade 10.
“Those two years of experience at senior, coming to provincials in Grade 10 and then in Grade 11, they
know what it takes, they have seen other teams, we have watched them, we have been burned by them
a bunch of times, lost a bunch of times and we just knew this was our year to get here,” the coach said.
The bronze medal game goes at 1 p.m. between Okanagan Mission and Claremont.
For full results and to see the schedule, visit
By Gary Ahuja
The two preeminent AA boys volleyball programs in B.C. are set for a Saturday night showdown with the gold medal on the line.
Since the turn of the century, the MEI Eagles and Langley Christian Lightning have combined to capture 13 provincial titles and a total of 27 medals over those 19 years.
Both schools are guaranteed to add to their lofty medal totals when they hit the court on Saturday night at Langley Events Centre to wrap up the 2019 BC Secondary School Volleyball Provincial Championships.
The action gets underway on Court 1 at 7 p.m.
MEI has won 10 provincial titles since 2000, to go along with a silver medal and five bronze medals. But they are in search of their first gold since 2015 and regardless of Saturday’s outcome, this will be the Eagles best finish since they won bronze in 2016.
Langley Christian has won nine medals (three gold, two silver and four bronze) in their past 12 seasons with their most recent podium finish coming last year when they took bronze. Altogether the school has three provincial titles under their belt – which is tied for third most in AA history with Lambrick Park while a fourth gold medal would pull them even with Ashcroft, trailing only MEI.
The gold medal would also be the first for the Lightning since they won back-to-back titles in 2016 and 2017.
In Friday’s semifinals, Langley Christian made quick work of the George Elliot Coyotes, winning in straight sets 3-0 (25-20,25-22,25-21) while the Eagles dropped the first set to the Abbotsford Christian Knights before winning the next three to take the match 3-1 (22-25,25-22,25-16,25-15).
“We were really shaky out of one rotation but we kind of won the game on the backs of Jonas (Van Huizen) and Tyson’s (Hofer) serve tonight,” admitted LCS coach Bryden MacTavish. “The two of them served lights out and applied a lot of pressure the whole night.”
As for the Eagles, coach Rocky Olfert said there wasn’t much panic when his team – which is predominantly Grade 11 – dropped the first set.
“You practice all year to understand that these situations might happen and you hope you learn from them. We have been in that situation before. mentally it is just a matter of resetting, refocusing and just trying to stay with our game,” he said.
“We knew it could be a long game it was just a matter of doing what we know we can do and settling the nerves a little bit and just playing MEI Eagle volleyball.”
MEI and Langley Christian have battled all season both in league, tournament and playoffs.
The Lightning defeated the Eagles to earn the top seed out of the Easter Valley zone but MEI won 2-1 on the first day of provincials during Power Pool play. In fact, Langley Christian was seeded third following
day one having gone 1-2 with losses to MEI and George Elliot. The Eagles won the pool at 3-0.
Despite that first-day hiccup, MacTavish was not too concerned.
“The whole message the week ahead was on day one you can’t win it and you can’t lose it so you can just make your life a little easier. We left that first day knowing what our road was and we are going to have to play one of those teams anyway and we have been close all year,” he said.
As for the Eagles, while they may be young in terms of competing at the senior level, but they are not short of championship experience with the Grade 11s having won the junior provincial title last year.
“We all want to keep competing and be the best in BC. It is a very motivated group,” Olfert said.
The Knights and Coyotes – in a rematch of last year’s championship final – will battle for bronze on Saturday at 3 p.m.
For full results from Friday and Saturday’s schedule, please visit www.bcssvballchampionships.ca.