The Highland Raiders senior boys volleyball team competed in the AA Island championships in the Comox Valley on the weekend. And did very well.
The Raiders were ranked #4 going in but finished second to earn a spot at the Provincials in Kelowna from Nov. 27 to Dec. 1. Tristan MacLean and Chris Dodd received all-star acknowledgment.
The boys started off in strong fashion, taking two quick sets off of Victoria’s Lambrick Park. Without a break the boys immediately jumped into their next match against North Island #1 Gulf Islands. With a huge amount of support from the local crowd the boys took the first set convincingly with a strong offensive performance from MacLean and Dodd, backed up with great blocking by Mac Gold and Jared Collin.
With a tremendous amount of effort and heart the boys fought back from a deficit, taking the third set in a nail biter 15-13. Closing out the round robin the boys were matched up against Victoria’s Parkland team, beating them convincingly with superb serving from Willem Roelants and strong swings out of middle from Alec Molander.
That sealed the number one spot in pool play and set them up for a semifinal match Saturday, where they met Woodlands in the first semi match of the day. The Raiders came out struggling, losing the first set, but fought back from a 10-point deficit to take the second set 25-23. After settling into the game, strong performances from Trenton Cameron and MacLean cemented the win by taking the next two sets, sending the team to the finals and clinching a spot in the Provincials.
After a break, the Raiders faced off against B.C.’s third-ranked team, Victoria’s Pacific Christian School, in the tournament final. The Raiders got off to a steady start, staying with the Pacers point for point. Spencer McDougall highlighted the front row with big touches while blocking, allowing the back row to dig up everything PCS threw at them.
It was set to be a riveting final as Highland finally fell 28-30 against the heavily favoured Pacers in the opening set. After losing the second set, an inspired performance by setter Jared Collin and pivotal stuff blocks from MacLean and Gold allowed some innovative plays from the Highland attackers as they found themselves leading the third set 20-18. The Raiders fell short in the third set after an incredible performance by the young squad. "The weekend was played with incredible heart and passion fostered by support from injured teammate Sam Lewis," a spokesperson said.
"The Highland boys and their parents would really like to thank coaches Mike Fulmore and Thomas De la Rey for all of their time spent coaching the boys. A really special thanks to head coach Pieter De la Rey for all his time, energy and expertise and for being such a great role model for this group of boys," the spokesperson said.
At the AAA boys Island championships, also held in the Valley on the weekend, the Vanier Towhees placed sixth and did not advance to provincials.
– Highland Raiders