The Okanagan Mission Huskies proved that high school volleyball and travelling to a sunny, exotic location can be a winning combination.
The OKM senior boys team, which also featured two players from KSS, are back home after capturing the championship trophy at the first annual Koolua Cup Invitational in Kailua, Hawaii.
The 10-day tour, headed up by OKM senior boys coach Paul Thiessen was 10 months in the making.
“I created a blended team of core players from the senior Huskies squad and then added to two from KSS Owls to bring our numbers up to eight for the tour,” said Thiessen. “The tour required careful planning as we have six players also playing with the Kelowna Volleyball Club. During the spring break we had an opportunity to have our KVC club players play in two Club tournaments at the beginning and the end of spring break. The ten day Hawaiian tour fit nicely in between these two club tournaments.”
After spending the first three days soaking up some sun in Honolulu, the Huskies competed in the seven-team tourney at Le Jardin Academy school.
After an impressive 5-1 record in pool play, the OKM boys advanced to the semifinals where they took on a team from Kalaheo with three players 6-foot-5 or taller.
In an unusual playoff format, it was single-game elimination.
The game was close when the Huskies defense began to take over. Some key transition kills by Isaac Smit and Devon Cote hitting from the right side helped to build OKM’s lead. The match was put out of reach when Liam Duncan converted a quick attack in the middle ending the match at 25-21.
In the final, the Huskies defeated Campbell High School from Honolulu.
Tanner Thiessen had two aces, two kills and a stuff block in the final. Spencer Michielsen made several great digs during the final as the team libero, and Dane Smit provided solid passing and offensive play throughout the tournament.
“Evan Yarrow, who was a last minute replacement to go on this tour did a nice job in middle blocking department as he was a force at the ne,” said Thiessen. “Ryan Luck the captain of the team led the Huskies offense which thoroughly confused our opponents who out matched us in size usually but not in skill and experience.”
OKM took home the first prize in convincing style winning the final game 25-15 to win the first ever Koolua Cup.
The following day, the OKM boys played two exhibition matches and won both.
Between the volleyball, the world-class beaches and social aspects of the tour, Thiessen said the trip was a great experience for the entire team.
“The team left Hawaii with new Hawaiian friends and lots of great memories that will not be easily forgotten.”
The team members, who were joined on the tour by 15 chaperons, were: Isaac Smit, Dane Smit, Spencer Michielsen, Ryan Luck, Tanner Thiessen, Evan Yarrow, all OKM players, and Devon Cote and Liam Duncan from KSS. The coaches are Paul Thiessen and Marv Luck.