Confidence and persistence came to play for the Burnaby North Vikings.
The senior girls volleyball team displayed both elements en route to finishing fourth at last week’s Lower Mainland championships.
While the tourney ended in a pair of 3-0 setbacks, the crucial point was accomplished when they punched their ticket to the AAAA provincials at the start of the playoff round.
After strong 2-0 wins in pool play, blanking both Sir Winston Churchill and Carson Graham, the Vikings drew the David Thompson Lakers in the all-important quarterfinal – with the winner guaranteed a top-four finish and B.C.-qualifying spot.
Not only did North deliver, head coach Erich Chou was impressed with the squad’s demeanour and determination throughout the process.
“We were definitely very, very nervous, and we didn’t start as well as we had played in pool (play),” noted Chou. “We seemed to be down, but we clutched up and really dominated in the third set (winning 25-15) and that’s where we showed our best.”
The Lakers put up a valiant battle in the fourth set to make it 2-1, but the Vikings rallied to seal it 25-23 for the B.C. berth.
Although they fell 3-0 in the semifinal to No. 1-seed Lord Byng, who were slotted No. 2 in the province in the last poll prior to playoffs, and were similarly edged by Handsworth in the bronze medal match, Chou was pleased with their bounce-back effort in the final game.
In that duel against No. 10-ranked Handsworth, the games were closer. In one particular set, the lead traded hands nearly 10 times before the Royals extracted the win.
“A bronze game is tough. Every team’s goal was to make the final but you don’t. ... It’s tough, but how you respond is important. The players did (against Handsworth).”
He credited his leadership core of three seniors, Elisa Echelli, Gianinna Masellis, and Anastasia Mihic, and said they have been keys to the team’s recent run.
“I really enjoy letting the seniors take care of what needs to be talked about for motivation,” Chou said. “All three have very good thoughts about what we need to deal with. I like our mentality.”
Burnaby North will likely be seeded among the bottom four, with the main goal avoiding a slow start and the consolation bracket.
The provincials run Nov. 28 to Dec. 1 in Penticton.