Home court advantage for Knights, Mustangs

Kelowna Christian and Immaculata play host to B.C. A girls volleyball championship

Immaculata’s Lexi Bruschinsky (left) and Kelowna Christian’s Kara Stasiewich will be on the host teams for this weekend’s B.C. A girls volleyball championship in Kelowna.

The province’s top-ranked team and the defending champs will both have home cooking on their side for the 2016 edition of the B.C. A girls’ volleyball championship this weekend in Kelowna.

The Kelowna Christian Knights and Immaculata Mustangs will co-host the 16-team provincial tourney which tips of Thursday morning at the two local schools.

A third Kelowna school, Abderdeen Hall, will also be in conntetion for a B.C. title.

The top-seeded Knights, winners of the Okanagan title earlier this month, will be among the favourites over the three-day event, but head coach Dave Bingham said his team is taking nothing for granted.

“Most of our starting lineup has been playing at the senior level since Grade 10, so we have experience on our side,” said Bingham.

“But it’s the provincials and as we saw in the Grey Cup, the top-ranked team doesn’t always win. If we play well and enjoy the tournament, that’s what’s most important,” Bingham added.

“If we get into the medals, then I would be happy with that.”

The Knights are led by senior co-captains Jessica Regehr and Marika Harris, setter Tenley Csolle and Kara Stasiewich.

KCS is grouped in pool play with the second-ranked White Rock, No. 3 Aderdeen Hall, and the fourth-ranked Mustangs.

Immaculata, which won back-to-back B.C. titles in 2014 and 2015, are in an underdog role this time around.

Head coach Kasandra Palmer said what the 2016 Mustangs may give up in pure volleyball talent, they make up for in character and attitude.

“We have a team not of volleyball players but of athletes,” said Palmer, a Mustang alumni who is in her 12th season on the coaching staff.

“At the end of the day, games are won and lost on the mental side of the sport.

“We have a really good group of girls and they’re extremely close,” Palmer added.

“Coming in not ranked No. 1 takes a bit of the pressure off of them. If the girls play the way they can, they certainly have a chance at being in the medals.”

The Mustangs will be led into battle by seniors Kate Johnson, Lexi Bruschinsky and Ashlyn Day.

This will be Palmer’s last provincial tournament as Mustangs’ head coach. She will step down at season’s end to spend more time with her young family.

The championship final is set for 6:30 p.m. Saturday at Immaculata.

Owls boys No. 1…

Ranked No. 1 all season, the KSS Owls are the favourites heading into this week’s B.C. AAA boys volleyball finals in Langley.

Mike Sodaro’s Owls open power pool play today with the next three highest seeds—Van Tech, Semiamhoo and Walnut Grove.

KSS won the silver medal in both 2013 and 2014.

The Mt. Boucherie Bears are ranked sixth and will play in a pool with Dover Bay, Reynolds and Seaquam.

The final goes Saturday at 5 p.m. at the Langley Events Centre.

Meanwhile, the George Elliott Coyotes are ranked fifth in the AA competition, also being contested in Langley.

KSS girls at BCs…

The Kelowna Owls are ranked No. 6 heading into the B.C. 4A girls championship beginning Thursday at Handsworth and West Vancouver Secondary.

The Okanagan Valley champion Owls are grouped in a pool with South Delta, West Vancouver and Lord Tweedsmuir.

The gold medal final will be played Saturday at 6:30 p.m. at Handsworth.

OKM hosts AAA girls…

The Okanagan Mission Huskies are playing host to the B.C. AAA girls provincial championship beginning Thursday.

OKM is in a power pool with Brooks, Crofton House and Clayton Heights.

Vernon Seaton is the top-ranked team from the Okanagan.

The gold medal match is set for 4:45 p.m. on Saturday.