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.
Well after the UBC weekend tournament, Claremont’s loss to Langley Fundamental doesn’t cost them in the rankings, and Eric Hamber’s equal upset of MEI at UBC vaults them ahead of Argyle. EMS keeps hold of top spot with their best in BC finish at UBC (losing to Edmonton’s Harry Ainley in the final. New Westminster finds their way into the top 15 for the first time ever.
HM: Duchess Park, Hugh McRoberts
By Bob Carter
“Our passing was excellent in the first game today,” coach Al Schill said. “But it slipped in the second — we lost our focus a little — and then it got better in the third.”
“They’re good energy guys, very reliable, and swing very well,” Schill said. “The twins are definitely impact players.”
spar* SPARTANS GET ANOTHER SHOT: Claremont had to do some grinding as well to turn back a gritty Argyle team that had upset Delta 3-2 the day before. The young Spartans had gone 0-3 in Wednesday’s top pool before rebounding with a convincing 3-0 win in the round of 16 on Thursday.
“We played much better against Pen High than today,” coach Shon Ryan said. “The kids weren’t as fired up emotionally.”
“He was very steady today, and he’s been very steady,” Ryan said.
“We just have to play our game, and worry about ourselves, what we do. We need to pass well.”
The Okanagan Zone remains in flux, with different winners in their zone each week. Mt. Baker moves up with a strong showing at the Kelowna tournament, their first chance to square off vs other BC teams.
Significant changes at the top after the Best of the West Tournament in Kelowna, GESS and College Heights having wins over Abbotsford Christian.
By Bob Carter
Talk of a three-peat came naturally at Earl Marriott Secondary this season. That goal, though, began clouding for the two-time AAA champions in September when new coach Dave Dooley was barely able to scrap together a team.
Dooley, who has taken over for former coach Bob Smith, realized the difficulty of winning a third consecutive title even before encountering a numbers problem.
“We’re not the same EMS team that has been around for the past several seasons,” said Dooley, who was a Camosun College assistant under Charles Parkinson and coach of a Victoria U18 club team. “We’ve lost several key guys, including three who would be in Grade 12 for us this season, and likely starters, but have moved on in some capacity.
“As a result, we had to bring up a few Grade 10s to even have enough to field a team, a sad thought given the recent success in the program.”
By early November, the eighth-ranked Mariners had nine players and had taken the lead in the Fraser Valley South race.
They started the season well with a fifth-place finish at the UBC tournament, and despite some later tourney struggles, have steered the course well in the league.
Dooley said they’ve gotten strong leadership from captains Tyson Smith (left side hitter) and Pearson Stiller (setter), both Grade 12s.
“From there, our lineup is filled out by a couple of fresh guys who have learned their roles well, as well as some very solid Grade 10s,” Dooley said.
“Malakai McMullin (left side) is one of the most solid passing and defending players I’ve seen, and he’s only Grade 10. Offensively, he’s very technically sound, and while he lacks some height (5-10), he makes up for it with both power and finesse, a deadly combination.”
The team’s strength, Dooley said, is the serve and pass game. “Our passing rotation consists of three passers who are so great our libero often becomes the target, a challenge he loves to accept.
“While we have one strong spin server (Smith), we are a tactical float-serving team that tends to put our opponent out of system right off of the first contact, making up for a lack of size and blocking at the net — our main weakness by far.”
Dooley was asked to rate players and teams he’s seen this season. His assessment:
Best blocker: Ryan Samuelson (Kelowna setter).
Best setter: “I’m biased but would have to say Pearson Stiller (EMS).”
Grade 10s to watch for: Malakai McMullin (EMS), Michael Dowhaniak (Semiahmoo).
Best offensive team: MEI. “A very strong systematic team both on the offensive and defensive side of the ball. Suffice it to say we’re glad that they’re AA!”
Best attackers: “Tyson Smith (EMS), Dan Aspenlieder (Fulton), Nick Mickelberry (Oak Bay) and the big lefty for MEI (Kaden Gamache).”
Best defensive team: Fraser Heights and Van Tech. “Always tough to put balls away against those guys.”
Most improved: Walnut Grove. “A very athletic and much improved squad.”
Top 3 AA: MEI, Fulton, Langley Christian.
Top 3 AAA: KSS, Mount Boucherie, Oak Bay.