The Moscrop Panthers became the first Burnaby school to make it to the final four at the B.C. high school AAA boys' volleyball championships.
The Panthers finished in fourth place at the provincials following a five-set loss to top-seed Fraser Heights in the bronze-medal final in Kelowna on Saturday.
Moscrop took the pretournament favourite to a tiebreak following games of 25-22, 22-25, 27-25, 2325, before falling 15-12.
The loss was just the second for the Panthers at the provincials.
Earlier, Moscrop lost in straight sets to eventual champion Oak Bay in the semifinals at the UBC Okanangan university campus.
Grade 11 power Jerome Cross was a dominant force for the Panthers and was named a first team tournament all-star. Cross and second-team all-star setter Zach Or kept opposing teams on their toes with powerful jump serves. Moscrop senior Marcus Jung was named the most outstanding libero.
The Panthers were also singled out as the most sportsmanlike team.
"We're really proud of the boys, and more importantly, how much respect the team gained," said Moscrop co-coach Ed Chin. "The Oak Bay coaches ... said to us after our match ... about how much they respected our team because even though we weren't playing very well against Oak Bay, all our boys still had smiles on their faces when the match was going on, just enjoying the moment. ... We felt really good about that."
Moscrop won its pool in the tournament power rankings, which groups teams together based on their respective ratings in provincial polls.
The No. 6-seeded Panthers defeated Mt. Boucherie in straight sets and Penticton 2-1 before upsetting No. 5-ranked Delta 25-16, 13-25, 15-7 in pool play.
Moscrop then took care of North Peace in a four-setter in the championship round to move into the quarter-finals against highly-ranked Earl Marriott.
"My goal was to earn some respect," Moscrop co-coach Kim Or said of the match versus Marriott.
Earlier in the season, Moscrop was soundly beaten by the Surrey school in a tournament at UBC.
The West Burnaby boys upset No. 4 Marriott 25-22, 25-18, 27-25 to become one of just a small handful of Lower Mainland schools to ever reach a provincial AAA semifinal.
"Beating (Marriott) in three sets, after that everything was gravy. I've never seen our coaches as proud of us as that," said Jung. "I think we took them by surprise. We just had fun with it. It was one of the last games as a family - win or lose, we felt we'd already won."
In 2009, Eric Hamber became the first Mainland zone school in almost 40 years to earn a medal since John Oliver won a silver medal back in 1971. Hamber finished with a bronze medal.
Moscrop's fourth-place finish capped off a season of firsts for the senior Panthers. A core group of the team won five consecutive district league banners for Moscrop that began as bantams, before earning the school program's first-ever Lower Mainland title earlier this season.
"It put Moscrop on the map. The culture we were trying to develop (at Moscrop), I'm hoping it will catch on," Or said.
It appears that for Jung and the rest of the Panthers it already has.
"It really showed the culture coach Kim has taught us, . I want to thank him for believing in us for the five years. . That's the best thing anyone could give us."
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