By Bob Carter
George Elliot and Abby Christian will meet for the AA title Saturday at the Kahunaverse Sports BC Volleyball Championships.
Both survived critical moments in Friday’s semifinals.
ACS rallied to defeat Fraser Valley rival Langley Christian in four sets after nearly being down 2-0, ending the dream of a third consecutive title for the Lightning.
Elliott, a team ranked No. 1 most of the season, beat College Heights in five sets (17-15). It was the Coyotes’ fifth victory over CH this year in five meetings.
“I’m so happy for the players,” GESS coach Chris Frehlick said, adding that “it has been a long time since George Elliot has been in the finals.”
After controlling the play in taking the first two sets, 22 and 16, the Coyotes dropped the next two sets, 26-24 and 25-23. They fell behind 8-6 in the fifth, tied it at 11 on a Roan McCarthy kill, then trailed 14-13 on a big hit by the Cougars’ Matt Shand.
One point from defeat, Frehlick called a timeout and later remembered telling his team two things: “Pass the ball and be aggressive.”
The Coyotes won four of the next five points for the victory.
GESS has gone 2-0 this season against Abby Christian, which had been struggling to find its form the last few weeks.
The Knights entered the BCs as the sixth seed after losing two late matches in league play and two more in the zone playoffs.
They lost the first set to LCS 25-23 and blew a four-point late in the second, falling behind by a point with the Lightning serving for the set. The Knights then won three straight points to even the match 27-25 and took the next two sets 25-17, 25-20.
Pulling out the second set was huge, said Knights coach Anthony Jansen.
“That win instilled all the confidence the boys needed,” he said. “It was a great team effort.”
Standout Cole Brandsma, a 6-6 power, played extremely well, but the play of 5-11 Zach Meinen turned out to be critical.
“He contributed more than in any other game,” Jansen said. “He made a big difference, giving us another left side. He took some of the pressure off Cole, who had one of his best games.”
The pressure seemed to lessen Friday for the whole team, which didn’t play well in winning its first two pool games two days earlier.
“Every day we’ve been gaining confidence,” Jansen said. “It looks like we’re peaking at the right time.”
Game NOTES from ACS vs LCS:
Game 1: Both teams are hitting the cover off of the ball. This is terrific volleyball. Langley Christian finishes with a thunderous hit from Kastelein on the left side to win 25-23.
Game 2: Abby Christian’s #10 tooling and has at least three kills. Abby Christian is up 19-15 when LCS calls timeout. LCS calls timeout down 18-22. LCS battles back to 23-23 as ACS calls a timeout. Abby Christian battles 27-25
Game 3: ACS has 9-2 early lead. Has control from the outset and takes game 25-17.
Game 4; The battle continues with great saves by both sides. ACS up 12-9. Cole his a ball straight down the line for 14-11 lead. ACS up 21-16 with great defense – LCS calls timeout. ACS #10 playing out of this planet. ACS WINS 25-20!!!! FINALS BOUND.
Game NOTES from GESS vs CH:
Game 1: George Elliot has commanding 19-14 lead- College Heights battled back to 20-21. George Elliot finishes strong to take the set.
Game 2: Shand is scoring at will early. College Heights called for a number of 2 touch calls in the middle. George Elliot takes control of the middle and takes the game 25-16.
Game 3: College Heights can’t solve George Elliot. GESS #5 is on fire early. College Heights fights back to take a lead 12-11 before GESS calls timeout. Down at 19-20 College Heights calls timeout. 23-23. Off of a fast set to the outside- a quick swing -fans and misses to create a 23-24 deficit for GESS. GESS calls timeout. Medical timeout for #5 creates a long break between serves. CH misses serve. 24-24. #10 CH kill down the line 25-24. CH wins 26-24.
Game 4: Down 3-6 CH calls timeout. Both teams battling and hitting hard with great digs. 14-14. A couple of CH errors down 14-17. #6 CH scores against triple block down still down 16-18. CH 12 serving – 19-18 after CH 6 recycles ball then pounds the next one down. Timeout GESS. GESS #11 now in front row. CH 22-20 CH #6 serving – into net. CH timeout up 22-21. Fans are going crazy. CH #10 with two kills near the end to take 24-22 lead. GESS #11 hits down the line off the block 23-24. #12 CH kill out of the middle for 25-23 win.
Game 5: 1-0 GESS #5 combo kill to start 1-0. GESS #15 hard kill 2-1. tied 3-3. GESS #11 tool kill 4-3. CH #10 great kill 4-4. CH #12 off a party ball straight down 5-5. CH #6 hard kill down the line 6-6. CH # 6 party ball kill 7-6. CH #6 kill deep cross – CH up 8-6 at the turn. Timeout GESS down 6-8. tied 8-8 two errors. CH #6 right side kill. Dribble drop kill CH 10-8. GESS right side kill 9-10. #15 GESS short serve -block 10-10. CH #10 Kill left side 11-10. GESS #11 great deep kill 11-11 : CH calls timeout. GESS in the middle tip falls to the ground 12-12. CH #10 rocket kill 13-12. GESS crazy dig and GESS #11 D ball kill down the right line. 13-13 CH calls timeout. GESS #8 serving – Great rally CH#6 kill to gap in 6 and 1 CH 14-13. CH #6 -out 14-14. GESS #5 party ball kill 15-14. CH #6 tool kill 15-15. CH #6 high out. 17-15 setter called for 2 touch.
As the BC tournament is 16 teams for AA and 20 teams for AAA, this week we present the top 16 and top 20:
This was the last weekend of exhibition tournaments. Playoffs for zones began this week.
By Bob Carter
Chris Frehlick’s reputation as a straight shooter loses no credibility when the George Elliot boys volleyball coach talks about his top-ranked AA Coyotes. No false, downplaying tactics here.
“I’ve never had, or it’s been a long time since I’ve had, a team with this many good players,” Frehlick said. “They’re playing like veterans.”
The Coyotes jumped from fourth to first in the rankings in mid-October after winning the Gold division at the perennially strong Best of the West tournament in Kelowna. They went 6-1 that weekend, beating then No. 3 College Heights 2-1 in the final.
George Elliot followed the title two weeks later with a second-place finish at the Thompson Rivers tournament. The Lake Country school lost 2-1 in that final to powerful Earl Marriott, top-ranked in AAA.
The Coyotes placed seventh, seventh and sixth the past three years in the Kahunaverse Sports BC Championships, but their success this season didn’t catch Frehlick by surprise.
“I knew we were in the mix,” he said.
Frehlick said the the team has eight players who are “big-time contributors,” all Grade 12s except for power Roan McCarthy, a 6-4 Grade 11 and brother of former GESS standout Fynn McCarthy, now playing professionally in France. Roan got considerable playing time last year.
“He’s completely different than his brother,” Frehlick said. “Fynn was a ‘freak,’ definitely more of a physical player. Roan is more skillful, more polished at this juncture. He’s one who has CIS potential.”
The Coyotes may get a post-season lift from Ben Magel, a 5-11 left side who has fought a troublesome back issue. Magel, an excellent passer, played with pain last year, Frehlick said, and was told he couldn’t spike all of this season.
But Magel eventually visited the UBC Sports Medicine staff and got the go-ahead to play, starting in the back row but working his way back to the front where he recently resumed spiking.
Setter Matt Darley, who played about half-time last year, is setting full-time this season and putting in extra work in the gym.
“He’s very athletic, fast,” Frehlick said. “He can get to all the balls. He’s a good leader, running a good show.”
Two of the team’s taller players are middles Tom Parish and Garrett Anderson, both 6-4. “Both are getting the job done as hitters and blockers,” Frehlick said.
All in all, the Coyotes, who host their annual tournament Nov. 2-3, have been playing solid defence and transitioning well to their attack.
“If a team doesn’t really hammer the ball against us,” Frehlick said, “they’re not going to score.”
Elliot beats College Heights for gold: George Elliot won its own tournament over this weekend Nov 2-3rd, defeating College Heights in the final 3-1. The Coyotes rallied from a 2-1 deficit in the semifinals to beat Abby Christian 3-2.
The tournament, whose matches were all best 3-out-of-5, had a 16-team bracket with no pool play.
The top five finishers: 1, George Elliot; 2, College Heights; 3, Abby Christian; 4, Langley Christian; and 5, Kelowna.
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
The Big Kahuna BC Volleyball Championships can be an intimidating ride for some teams. The George Elliot Coyotes, though, have their eyes wide open already.
If they qualify, as expected, they should be comfortable when the four-day competition begins Nov. 30 at the Langley Events Centre.
Not only did they place seventh in AA last year with a largely grade 11 group, they’ve played a demanding schedule this season that has helped them to learn and gauge the strength of many of BC’s top teams.
George Elliot finished second to AAA top-ranked Kelowna in the Penticton tournament, tied for third at the MEI tournament and made it to the quarterfinals of last weekend’s Best of the West event in Kelowna. In the Kelowna tournament, the Okanagan team went 2-1 in Pool B, which consisted of four ranked squads.
“We’ve been up and down,” coach Chris Frehlick said. “We played very well against Mount Boucherie and College Heights (both pool victories).” The team also lost to highly rated AA Pacific Academy, which went on to win the tournament.
The Coyotes defeated Louis St. Laurent in their first playoff match before falling to two-time defending AA champ MEI in the quarters. Frehlick said the Eagles “aren’t as strong as some years,” but have a dynamic force in sub-6-foot attacker Colton Loewen, the AA MVP last season. “He’s amazing.”
Sixth-ranked George Elliot, which fields an all-grade 12 starting lineup, is directed by setter Morgan Nichols, a Team BC player who has signed with UBCO. “He’s been very strong,” Frehlick said. “He’s athletic, can get to the ball quickly and sometimes makes our serve-receive look better than it is. He’s a good all-around player.”
Right-side Flynn McCarthy is also having a robust season, and Frehlick said the 6-6 hitter could be performing at the university level next year as well.
While Frehlick is pleased with the duo’s play, he thinks his team needs “some more balance.”
That might develop as the season continues. Although the Best of the West came near the season’s mid-point, Frehlick doubts it’s a true barometer of relative strength.
“It’s a little early. Teams are still experimenting,” he said. “They’re changing players from position to position, trying to find the best lineup.”
With zone playoffs only about a month away, the Coyotes and other teams will learn the important truths soon enough.
(Bob Carter can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)