The Isfeld Ice junior girls volleyball team took top spot at the Vancouver Island University tournament last Saturday.
The VIU tournament is the premier event of the season for this league, involving 24 teams from all over the Island and Lower Mainland. It is organized in six round-robin pools of four teams each, leading to gold and silver tier playoffs of 12 teams each. Teams have to place in the top two of their pool to qualify for the gold tier.
Isfeld’s opening match was against Woodlands of Nanaimo. While the victory came easily, it proved costly. Starting middle block Vail Zerr went down with an ankle sprain, and the team would be without her steady passing, sound net play and crushing serves for the rest of the tournament.
The next match was against St. Thomas Aquinas, a private school serving North and West Vancouver. Isfeld dominated early and took both sets by comfortable margins. Amy Edwards had a particularly strong match stepping in for Zerr.
The final match of the first day was against Kwalikum, and Isfeld again cruised to a comfortable victory, with Jessica Corfield and Emma Shaver providing much of the offence. Three straight wins Friday meant first in the pool and in a good position for the gold tier playoff on Saturday.
For all of Saturday, Isfeld was without Sidney Kuhnert, the other starting middle block, and the team would have to compensate for her aggressive net play. Chelsey Lachapelle was reassigned to middle and performed excellently in the new role, making many key blocks and stepping up her passing and serving. Corfield also had to change roles, becoming a back row specialist on short notice. The first match was against Dover Bay, which was won by Isfeld in two sets by comfortable margins.
The semifinal match was against St. Patrick’s, another private school from Vancouver. This team had remarkable passing and digging talent, and the rallies were long. Isfeld led the attack with hammering spikes from Katelyn Braaten and Sara Traves, but the St. Patrick’s squad would not give up.
Isfeld took the first set 25-19 and was leading the second set 24-19, but St. Patrick’s battled back to take the second set 26‐24. Isfeld could have been demoralized by that loss, but they got back to the hard‐hitting game that made them successful in the first set, and won the tiebreaker 15-11.
Immediately after that emotional and draining match, Isfeld found themselves in the final versus St. Thomas More Collegiate from Burnaby. The Isfeld warm‐up did not go well, but the team settled down to play after giving up a couple of points. Rachel Wright saw extra court time as a right side due to strong play in the previous match, and took many second passes to set up Traves and Braaten.
The Isfeld attack was conventional, but highly effective. With three hitters using their impressive vertical jumping ability, St. Thomas More had great difficulty blocking a potent attack. Isfeld took both sets to win the tournament.
All-star team nominations from Isfeld included Maggie Snyder‐Harris, the highly mobile setter who kept the team on the game plan, and Katelyn Braaten, the feared power hitter that no team had an answer for. Sara Traves, Isfeld’s other power hitter, was also in the running for this recognition.
SIDE OUTS The Isfeld junior team plays at Mark R. Isfeld’s gymnasium on Nov. 11-12 for the North Island championship … the top four teams from that tournament will advance to the Islands .. the Ice won their own invitational tourney two weeks ago …
– Isfeld Ice Athletics