By Bob Carter
It seldom matters how long coaches have toiled. Surprises always seem to materialize, and longtime Reynolds coach Rob Basi is no exception.
“I’ve been surprised with our defence, a pleasant surprise,” says Basi, now in his 21st season as the Roadrunners’ senior boys coach. “I really thought we’d have to work harder on it in practice. In the Camosun and MEI tournaments we picked up a lot of balls and were able to hang in games.”
The Victoria-area team has been competitive most of the way this fall, climbing to No. 4 in AAA in the mid-October rankings before slipping back to seventh this week.
Defence, what might have been a concern, is now the Roadrunners’ biggest strength, Basi says.
Reynolds, 15th in last year’s provincials, has a fairly experienced group — six grade 12s and five grade 11s — which includes seven club players.
The go-to performers have been 6-4 middle Markeith Thonger and six-foot power hitter Graham Basi, Rob’s son.
Thonger stands about 6-4, “but plays bigger than that,” the coach says. “He can put the ball away.”
Rob says Graham Basi is “smart with the ball and one of our most consistent players. He plays both ends.”
The Roadrunners have two other dependable middles — 6-4 James Schafers, who has missed some time with a thumb injury, and 6-5 Kona Mezaros, playing his first year of competitive volleyball. Getting the hitters their swings is grade 11 setter Moses Lee, who set for the junior team last year.
Reynolds has performed creditably in four tournaments, with the biggest victory coming against Dover Bay, a tough three-setter in the VIU final. In last weekend’s Walnut Grove tournament, Basi’s team lost in the quarterfinals to AAA No. 2 Van Tech in the quarterfinals after winning a pool that included Walnut Grove and Riverside.
To do well in the postseason Basi thinks the Roadrunners’ serving must improve.
“We need to serve more aggressively,” he says. “This last weekend was a stark reminder that we’ve been serving inconsistently.”
As long as the defence continues to thrive, though, Reynolds could be a big factor at the Big Kahuna Volleyball Championships, which run Nov. 30 to Dec. 3 at the Langley Events Centre.
“We’ve been strong with that first contact, the ball control, ” Basi says. “We’ve been able to play out of system and recover. The kids are content with recycling the ball and playing defence. We can outlast teams. Other teams are often more physical, but we know we have to be patient.”