Ucluelet Secondary School’s senior boys volleyball team has reached B.C.’s Single-A provincial championships in dramatic fashion.
A second place finish at last week’s Vancouver Island championships earned the local squad a best-of-five showdown with West Vancouver’s Mulgrave School on Tuesday afternoon where the winner earned a provincial berth and the loser’s season ended.
USS breezed through the pressure-filled matchup by winning three straight sets, 25-8, 25-15 and 25-16 to secure the provincial spot.
This is the third time a USS senior boys volleyball team has reached the provincials, the most recent trip resulted in an eighth place finish three years ago, but it will be the first provincial experience for each of the team’s current players.
“This is the first time this squad is going to provincials,” head coach Bryan Grigg told the Westerly News after the win. “They’re pretty stoked. They’re definitely excited about having the opportunity.”
Traveling to West Vancouver meant an early start for the team, which left the West Coast this morning at 6:45 a.m. and Grigg said the travel-time gave him a chance to talk his players through the pressures of a win-or-go-home style matchup.
“We really nailed it down to communicating and calling the ball, talking to each other and letting each other know what we were going to be doing,” he said. “It’s a competitive game and it involves a lot of communication and that was the big premise for us. Each student has the skill level to play. It’s just working on the communication and working together as a team.”
He said he was thrilled to see his team secure the win, but noticed several areas to focus on and improved before heading to the provincial championships in Kamloops next week.
“They served extremely well. They kept tough serving all through the match never really letting Mulgrave get any rhythm going…At times there were some plays that we should have cleaned up a little bit better, but it’s always a mixed reaction because they did what they needed to do to win,” he said. “You always want them to go out there and perform at the highest level but, at the end of the day, they did what they needed to do to walk away with a win and we get to go on to the provincials next week.”
He added every player played a role in the victory.
“Everybody on the team was able to get in,” he said. “We have eight players on our squad and everybody was contributing. Whether it be passing, hitting or serving, everybody got playing time and everybody contributed to the overall win.”
The team will head to Kamloops on Nov. 22 and the tournament will start on Nov. 23.
“We’ve got a competitive team and we have a strong chance to do well at the provincials. We’re going to put some time in this week preparing, physically and mentally, and we’ll bring the goods next week and hopefully we’ll be able to put together a little bit of a run at the right time and the right spot,” Grigg said. “Because we’re playing in those competitive settings, the communication has to be there.”
The provincial tournament will mark the end of the team’s season as their is no national tournament for them to advance to.