By Bob Carter
High school sports can take strange and winding turns, full of bumps and bruises. Sometimes the changes lead to howling success — witness Abby Christian’s side in the Kahunaverse Sports BC Volleyball Championships.
The Knights, AA silver medalists a year ago, rallied past a highly skilled George Elliot team in four sets Saturday to win the AA title.
Three days earlier when the event began, they looked tentative, almost lost, as they struggled to win their first two pool matches, following a rocky ride in their zone playoffs two weeks earlier.
And then it happened. In the third pool match, against Surrey Christian, they started to look like the team that had played so well for much of the season and won more convincingly.
“They started to play with energy and purpose,” coach Anthony Jansen said.
“The first day we struggled,” star outside hitter Cole Brandsma said. “A lot of guys realized it was our last chance to bring it, and each day after that we kept peaking.”
One high came Friday when ACS ground past two-time defending champ Langley Christian, losing the first set before winning three straight.
On Saturday, the Knights again lost the first set (28-26) before finding their way.
They squeezed out the second, 25-23, then faltered early in the third when the Coyotes, who had performed superbly in beating College Heights on Friday, seemed to re-set. Trailing 8-2, ACS called timeout, and Jansen’s message was succinct:
“It’s not our day to stop playing.”
The Knights ran off five points, but the Coyotes scored four. Elliot still led 15-12 when Brandsma, who hadn’t quite found his rhythm, took command. The 6-6 UBC recruit had four kills and a big block of Coyote standout Roan McCarthy, and suddenly ACS was up by four on its way to a 25-21 set win.
Brandsma and Conner Piers had blocks early in the fourth, and a 7-0 run provided a 13-4 lead, all but tucking the title away.
Coming into the match, Jansen wanted his team to enjoy the experience, show some grit and not be overwhelmed.
Brandsma and his teammates certainly enjoyed the turnaround.