By Bob Carter
College Heights’ Jay Guillet, like most coaches, probably has plenty of focal points worth worrying about this season. Team cohesiveness isn’t one of them — not with a seasoned group that essentially has been together for five years.
Nine grade 12s, including standout attacker Ben Shand and skilled libero Nick Hansen, have returned from last year’s Cougars squad that placed sixth in AA at the Big Kahuna BC Volleyball Championships. Now the team from Prince George is ranked third behind Langley Fundamental and Langley Christian.
The five-year pack began high school play with Guillet coaching them in grade 8 while also directing the senior team.
“These kids love sports and volleyball,” Guillet says. “Many of them have played beach, club, BC Summer Games and Team BC over the years. The boys love to hang out in the school gym during their lunch time.”
The Cougars, not an overly tall team, also have hung some W’s this fall, winning three straight local tournaments. In the 40-team Best of the West tournament Oct. 14-15 in Kelowna they won their pool and reached the Gold playoff semifinals before losing to defending AA champ MEI.
In the early season, College Heights was tested strongly by city rival Duchess Park, a young team ranked second in the North Central zone and No. 8 in BC.
“They have excellent setting, serving, and they have two big middles,” says Guillet, who has coached many of the Condors players in club. “Duchess Park is finding their game and stride at the senior level.”
College Heights obviously would love to move up and win a medal in the BC’s, which start in late November at the Langley Events Centre. Guillet indicates that being prepared and performing well at Zones and Provincials is a team goal.
“It is essential we stay healthy,” he says, “stay poised as a group and remain focussed on the goals we set, and the process.”
(Bob Carter can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)