The Highland Raiders senior boys’ volleyball team took first place in the Vanier Invitational tournament this past weekend. The AA Raiders defeated three provincially ranked AAA teams to take top spot in an extremely competitive tournament.
Due to more teams in this tournament than initially expected, Highland was able to play four of their games in their home gym. In pool play on Friday, Highland took Woodlands easily in two sets in front of a large home crowd.
The second matchup was against NDSS. NDSS is fifth in AA provincial ranking while Highland is sixth. This was the second time these two teams had met – the first time ended in a one game apiece split. These teams are similar in style of play and after two exciting, hard-fought sets on both sides, Highland came up short 26-24, 25-23, although the school support was inspiring for the team. This would prove to be Highland’s only loss of the tournament.
Placing second in their pool, Highland defeated Mark Isfeld early Saturday morning. Isfeld is a young team and one to watch in the next couple of years, a Raiders’ team spokesperson said.
The next match was against Vanier. The Raiders lost the first set to the host Towhees, who came out strong, but then fought back to win set two. In the third set, Highland never looked back and knocked off Vanier to advance to the semifinals.
The next matchup was against Dover Bay. Highland took two straight and advanced to the final against Reynolds, another ranked AAA team. The championship was a close and hard-fought battle and Highland, again, came out on top, winning two straight sets (25-22, 25-23) to win the tournament.
Most of this Raiders team are now in Grade 12 and have been together for all of their years at Highland. They have always been a cohesive and successful group, the team spokesperson noted.
Trenton Cameron, Chris Dodd, Sam Lewis, Tristan MacLean, Jared Collin and Mac Gold were joined last year by Spencer McDougall, Willem Roelants and this year by Will Matous. Coach Pieter de la Rey and assistant Thomas de la Rey have worked hard coaching the boys for the past two years, for many hours a week and many weekends away. For this the team is so grateful. Pieter’s encouragement, expertise and commitment are so appreciated by the boys and their families.
The Raiders will be hosting the AA North Islands this weekend (Nov. 8-9) followed by Islands Nov. 16-17 on Salt Spring Island. They are looking to improve upon their #6 ranking at the provincial championships Nov. 22-29.
– Highland Raiders