The Mark R. Isfeld Ice senior girls’ volleyball team finished off their very successful season by capturing fifth place at the B.C. High School Championships, Dec. 1-3 in Kelowna.
The Isfeld girls had to take the tough route to B.C.s after falling short in their initial effort to qualify directly from the Island zone playoffs. They finished fourth in Victoria two weeks ago and watched their provincially ranked opponents, all from a strong North Island zone, grab the three automatic berths.
However, Isfeld made the most of their opportunity to earn a trip to the prestigious 16-team championship by defeating a highly favoured South Kamloops and host McRoberts team in a one-day showdown to secure the lone wildcard spot.
With little time to let nerves settle in, the girls were off to the Interior. They began pool play on the opening day with a loss to #6 ranked Caledonia (Terrace) but bounced back with straight set wins over #4 Prince George and #16 Matthew McNair (Richmond).
Sarah McKillican led the Ice offence with precision sets, disguised attacks and stellar serving. Molly Mifsud had several crushing kills from both power and right side. Rebecca Green contributed numerous key finishes from middle and shut down opponents with her consistent blocking.
Day 2 action saw Isfeld continue firing on all cylinders as they defeated #13 ranked Clayton Heights in three straight. Kelsey Keeping stepped in at middle to thwart the Surrey hitters and threw in clutch serves to keep them off balance. Sophie Bos stepped up her game with jump serves and crafty hitting.
That afternoon, however, the Ice stalled and suffered a loss to the eventual champions, #3 Little Flower Academy (Vancouver), in their quarter-final. The girls were not satisfied just because they made the top eight: they had a rematch in mind and a point to prove, a team spokesperson said.
On the final day, Isfeld once again faced pool rival PGSS and they dispatched them again, despite the return of the North Central champion’s top offensive threat. “Sophie Bibault contributed with cross-court kills and Leigha Fowler had multiple rally saving plays while both showed strong passing to help keep our girls in command of the contest,” the spokesperson said.
In their final match of the tournament, Isfeld had earned themselves another shot at Caledonia. It was on the main court, live-streamed and those watching at home would not be disappointed. The Terrace team could not get things going, with Libero Avarie Dennis diving all over the court and digging up everything thrown her way.
Erin Buttnor stuffed their hitters and was back at outside at power where she relentlessly dispatched kills down the line and forced her spikes through the opponent’s block.
“Undoubtedly the finest day of season for the Isfeld girls, with two key match wins in which everyone contributed to the success,” said the spokesperson.
“To top off the Provincials, the Isfeld girls were named Most Sportsmanlike Team for their fair yet inspirational play throughout, while Sarah McKillican was named a first team all star and Molly Mifsud was a second team all star.
“A huge thank you goes to new coach, Kurt Stushnoff, who stepped in this fall to run the Isfeld senior girls and was a valuable addition to the team staff, demonstrating leadership and knowledge in match preparation as well as a positive, co-operative approach to training.
“Assistant coach/player Tiffany Brown was there every step of the way for the girls, while Nikita Saunders, Michelle Belyk and a number of junior girls all stepped up to be part of helping the girls make it to Provincials this year.
“A big thank you also goes out to all the parents for their ongoing support and the CFB Comox women’s team for the training games,” the spokesperson added.