The Kelowna Christian Knights will pursue their second consecutive B.C. high school girls’ A volleyball title this week at Mt. Sentinel Secondary.
The hometown rival Immaculata Mustangs will try to prevent that from happening.
The Knights and Mustangs are ranked No. 1 and 2, respectively, heading into provincials beginning Thursday in the South Slocan.
The host Mt. Sentinel Wildcats are ranked third, with Cedar Christian fourth.
The Knights are led by starting setter Karli Taron and 6-foot-3 right side hitter Micaylee Pucilowski, while Jenna Ratzlaff and Cheyenne Heidebrecht have had to carry the load on the left side since the loss of Jasmine Randhawa, last year’s provincials MVP, to an injury. Staring libero Sarah Roberts, an all-star at the UBC tourney should also be a factor.
With a strong supporting cast, head coach Rob Smith likes the Knights’ chances of repeating but knows there will be formidable competition for the B.C. banner.
“We hope to be in the medals and would love to repeat as provincial champions but we know that Immaculata and Mt. Sentinel both have strong teams as well,” said Smith.
As for Immaculata, the Mustangs have finished in the top three in every tournament they’ve competed in this season and spent some time ranked at No. 1.
The Mustangs lost KCS in the valley final in three very close sets.
Immaculata will be led into battle by Siobhan Fitpatrick, the MVP at the B.C. Catholics and a perennial all-star, and Erin Jacobs an all-star at both Catholics and valleys.
If the Mustangs play up to their capabilities, coach Brian Drosodovech believes a gold medal is well within their reach.
“If we play like we have in practice the only thing that can stop us is ourselves,” Drosdoech said. “We have all the skills to come up big and hopefully improve on the past two years of third-place finishes.”
Pool play, featuring 16 teams, begins Thursday in South Slocan, with the gold medal final Saturday at 7 p.m.
Knights boys No. 1
With every player returning from last year’s bronze medal-winning team, experience should weigh heavily in Kelowna Christian’s favour this week at the B.C. high school boys A volleyball championship in Kelowna.
The No. 1 ranked Knights, who won two invitational tournaments and valleys this season, are led by co-captains Connor Loewen (6-foot-5) and Ryan Lintell (6-foot-4) who were both first team all-stars last year. Ben Van Dyk, Drew Shulz, Keelan Laughren are power hitters who should be a factor.
“Josh Klassen, Bryce Csolle and Josiah Siemens add a lot of experience to this well-rounded team,” said Knights coach Dave Bingham.
“This team lost the semifinal by two pionts last year, and hopes to make it into the gold medal match this time around.”
The Knights are in a power pool with Credo, Sparqwood and Bulkely Valley with play beginning Wednesday.
The A boys final is Saturday, 4 p.m. at KSS.