The Highland Raiders senior boys volleyball team won the Dover Bay senior boys tournament this weekend, defeating Ballenas, Dover Bay seniors and juniors, Woodlands and Duncan Christian without losing a single set.
Two weeks ago, the Raiders placed third at the V.I.U tournament losing in the crossover to a strong Oak Bay squad. Last weekend the junior boys hosted their own tournament and won every game, not dropping a set all weekend.
The two Highland teams are closely tied together. Two of the senior boys, Stuart Maclean and Noah Lewis, who both have younger brothers on the junior team, have coached the younger boys for the past three years at both the school and at the club level. Now the coaches have become teammates to the younger boys, as the juniors have moved up to senior to complete a full roster at that level.
Despite strong seasons last year for both teams, and Angus Ireland and Maclean playing for Team B.C. this summer, it looked like Highland again would not have enough players or a coach at the senior level. A strong but small junior contingent was heading for possibly a top Island finish, while the seniors had only three remaining Grade 12s.
An attempt was made to have an exhibition senior team from the Valley. This team consisted of Vanier, Highland and Isfeld players who did not have enough players for a senior team at their own schools. Vanier coach Brian Mcaskill wanted to take these boys to tournaments as an exhibition team, one that would not compete at the Islands and Provincials but would provide competition for higher level teams and prepare for the club season. This was not well received when the Valley “Dragons” (Niall Cobbe, Bryan Johnson, Brendan Arndt, Joel Rehger, Maclean, Ireland and Lewis) beat the number-one ranked Oak Bay and last year’s provincial champs Semihamoo at the first tournament of the season.
A new plan was needed. The Highland junior boys decided to move up to the senior level to play with their older brothers and coaches. The team received another blow when 6’7″ middle, Maclean, suffered another serious knee injury, putting him out for possibly the season.
The new group of Highland “seniors” (Grade 10s Chris Dodd, Trenton Cameron, Sam Lewis, Tristan Maclean, Alec Molander, Nick Tancon, Mac Gold, Bryce Marinus and Grade 9 Jared Collin) with the three seniors are lucky enough to be coached by McAskill.
McAskill didn’t have a senior program left at Vanier after placing fourth and sixth at the last two provincial tournaments. He has been working with the junior and senior teams at Highland and has also been including in practices the talented players from Vanier and Isfeld who have no teams at their own schools.
BC School Sports ruled they would not allow these senior boys to join the three Highland senior boys to make one senior team despite many letters to the eligibility committee.
After all of this, the very young Highland team now s looking ahead to the Comox Valley Invitational tournament on Nov. 4-5 which McAskill has traditionally held at Vanier, but will be hosting this year at Highland. Highland will also be hosting the senior boys North Islands on Nov. 9-10. These tournaments will be a great chance to see this young and exciting team in action.
– Highland Raiders volleyball