Double gold for Kelowna Christian volleyball
Not one, but two teams of gold medal champions are walking the hallways of Kelowna Christian School this week.
The Knights volleyball programs made history over the weekend as both the boys and girls' squads captured their respective B.C. high school A championships.
KCS celebrated the school's first gold medal in boys competition in 12 years Saturday afternoon in Kelowna, knocking off Langley's Credo Christian in a five-set thriller (25-18, 25-17, 18-25, 18-25, 16-14) at KSS.
Trailing 14-10 in the fifth set, the Knights were a point away from defeat but called on their resolve and mental toughness to pull out the win.
"The guys just didn't quit," said Knights' coach Dave Bingham. "We had a couple of starters with injuries who were tiring out, but the guys all battled hard. It's a tough-minded group we have.
"It was incredibly satisfying," he added. "That's a very tough team we beat."
The Knights also had a close call in the quarterfinals, before taking down Centennial Christian in five sets. KCS then took out Duncan Christian in the semis.
The Knights' Ryan Linttell was named the tournament's outstanding player.
Connor Loewen and Ben Van Dyk were named to the first all-star team, while Drew Schulz earned honourable mention.
The gold medal champ KCS boys are: Drew Shulz, Keelan Laughren, Josh Klassen, Josiah Siemens, Bryce Csolle, Connor Loewen, Justin Hamm, Ryan Linttell, Ben Van Dyk, Josh Smith and Tyler Gibbon.
The coaches are Dave Bingham and Leigh Goosen.
KCS girls defend, Mustangs win silver
When it comes to high school girls A-level volleyball in B.C., no one plays the game quite like Kelowna-based teams.
For the second straight year, the Kelowna Christian Knights captured the gold medal at provincials, while their local rivals, the Immaculata Mustangs, took the silver medal.
In an all-Kelowna final Saturday at Mt. Sentinel Secondary, the Knights defeated the Mustangs 3-0 (25-10, 25-22, 25-21).
The Knights didn't drop a set en route to the gold medal, posting a spotless 7-0 record at provincials.
"The girls really came to play and it was nice to watch," said Knights coach Rob Smith, whose wife Irene assists him. "We have a strong team with no real weaknesses, and none of the other teams could really match that. The girls played great."
Power hitter Micaylee Pucilowksi, who nearly missed the gold medal match due to illness, led the Knights with 22 kills and was named the tournament's outstanding player.
Kelsi Taron and Sarah Roberts were named to the first all-star team, Cheyenne Heidebrecht made the second team and Jenica McKenzie picked up an honourable mention.
As the defending champs there was a degree of pressure and expectations on the Knights, but Smith said his team handled it well.
"I think I was more nervous than they were," said Smith, who is also the athletic director at KCS. "We felt it was ours to lose. If we win, then we could say we got the job done. If we lose, well, that would have been terrible. All through it, the girls seemed to deal with it very well."
The gold medal champion Knights are Jenna Ratzlaff, Sarah Roberts, Amanda Hardy, Kelsi Taron, Jessie-Lynn Daase, Amanda Jonker, Jenica McKenzie, Emma Pagdin, Cheyenne Heidebrecht, Jasmine Randhawa, Roza Kalashnikoff, Shaylin Jost, Hailey Blaskovits, Jacqueline Sellers and Micaylee Pucilowski.
The Mustangs, coached by Brian Drosdovech, didn't lose a single set at provincials until the final. Immaculata went 3-0 in pool play, then swept past Selkirk, Similkameen and White Rock Christian en route to the final.
Drosdovech said his team was competitive all season, but just couldn't find a way to finish off tournaments, including provincials.
"We had a very good season, unfortunately a lot of seconds," Drosdovech said. "KCS played fantastic volleyball as did we in the second and third games. Their superstar libero (Sarah Roberts) who I think is one of the best there is in the province this year, dug them out of many situations where it looked like we had game-ending hits."
Erin Jacobs and Siobhan Fitzpatrick were named to the first all-star team, while Caroline Livingston made the second team.