The Comox Valley Volleyball Club 15U Strikers girls volleyball team finished fifth at Super Volley, surpassing their goal of finishing in the top tier of the March 19-20 tournament in Langley.
Ranked 13th heading in, the girls knew they had their work cut out for them to get the important ranking for future tournaments. In preliminary round-robin play, they were slow out of the blocks as they fell to White Rock’s #1 ranked Seaside Surf 9-25 10-25. It was a tough way to start the tournament but coach Donna Baydock was confident the team would bounce back. She helped them re-focus and they found their rhythm in the next match in pool play.
They won a nail-biter over Quesnel Cobras 27-25, then setters Myriam Misener and Vici Renwall relaxed into their roles and started setting the balls consistently and the hitters responded with a 25-6 win to take the match. The Strikers continued playing confidently against Air Attack Black from Richmond. Captain Shimen Fayad clobbered kills at will and 12-year-old sister Thana played opposite her to complement the attack from power.
Middle Leah Cicon served a string of nine points and Jessica Drummond let fly some bullets to ace a few serves herself. The Strikers won the match 25-14, 25-16 and assured themselves a second place finish in the pool and a playoff berth in Tier 1 which included the top 12 teams in the tournament.
In the cross-over match, the Island crew shocked Richmond’s Air Attack Gold with excellent teamwork and aggressive serving and attacking. Despite not feeling well, Samantha McKay came in to the power hitting position and contributed consistent serving and passing to solidify the win 25-23, 25-17. This win put them in the top eight of the tournament with a playoff game the next morning against top-ranked Vancouver Geckos.
The Strikers knew there would be no easy games in the top-eight playoff but they failed to keep pace with the Geckos first thing Sunday morning and dropped the first game 7-25. A line change made the required shake-up and the second set was tight. Shimen swung for a kill and kept the team close at 4-6. Leah Cicon showed her versatility by going in for the setting position and serving a deep ace to make it 5-6.
The two teams battled it out, with the Geckos pulling ahead. A middle block from Jordan Monks made the score 10-14 and a miscommunication on the Geckos part gave the Strikers another point. A kill down the line from Thana and then her service ace tied it up to 15-15 forcing a time out from the Geckos.
A kill out of the middle from Jessica Drummond tied the game at 18-18 and Shimen was the go-to girl swinging hard, to hold the team in the game when the Geckos were threatening game point. She served an ace and brought a win within reach at 22-24. The next serve though was sent long and the Geckos took the game 22-25. The loss meant the Strikers would be playing off for positions fifth to eighth.
Their next opponent was the well-skilled Burnaby Focus Rush. The Strikers started well and relied on strong blocking and middle attack from Cumberland’s Tayler Redmond while Jenny Veloso showed her digging prowess in the back row. Momentum swung from team to team with good rallies on both sides but the Strikers came up short in the first game, 22-25. The girls showed their determination and fought back in the second game.
Myriam Misener led with some tough serves and Shimen continued to impress with her hard hits and smooth defensive play. Vici Renwall made some key sets and controlled the ball well on defense. The girls took the game 25-20.
The confidence the team had built up over the weekend showed in the third and deciding 15 point game. They led at the court change 8-6 and with their strong teamwork they never looked back. Two outstanding cross court kills by young Thana iced the win 15-8 and the Strikers ended the tournament in a tie for fith place as the organizers decided not to have a final playoff game to determine fifth and sixth.
Coaches Baydock and Jahmil Fayad were thrilled with the results of the tournament as the Strikers achieved their goal of top eightout of 24 strong Mainland, Island and Okanagan teams. The next challenge for the 15U Strikers is an Island Super Volley on April 2-3 and the season culminates with the Provincial Championships on May 6-7 in Abbotsford.