After a second place finish at last week’s Vancouver Island Championships, Ucluelet Secondary School’s senior boys volleyball team is heading to West Vancouver for a must-win matchup against Mulgrave School on Tuesday where the winner will earn a spot in the Provincial Championships and the loser’s season will be over.
Last week’s Single A Island Championships included Esquimalt’s Ecole Victor-Brodeur, Brookes Shawnigan Lake, Chemainus Secondary School, Duncan Christian and Ucluelet. The USS squad cruised through a three game round robin to start off their championship bid before running into a strong Duncan Christian team in the finals, according to USS head coach Bryan Grigg.
“For the first three games, we played very nice and controlled. The serving was great. The defence was great. They were picking up a lot of loose balls and anything that was getting thrown over, they were passing it up well and using the point,” Grigg said. “Duncan Christian recognized the strengths that we had on our team and was able to make adjustments on their side to challenge our strengths and they played to some of our challenges.”
He said USS charged to an early five-point lead in the first set of the finals, but Duncan Christian’s Matt Brandsma—who was later crowned the championships’ MVP— went on a “serving tear” that earned his team the lead and the match.
Grigg said the second game saw USS fall to a quick eight-point deficit, which he was proud to see his team claw their way back from.
“We were running effective, high level attacks, but the defense on the Duncan Christian side was able to dig them. We played well but, on that day, we just got beat,” he said adding that even with their season potentially under the guillotine, the USS boys kept their composure.
“With a provincial berth on the line and first place in the Islands on the line, instead of seizing up and panicking, they really settled down and just started to play within themselves and running fixed plays and tandem plays…They were playing their game and doing well. Unfortunately Duncan Christian was able to dig those attacks.”
The win earned Duncan Christian a spot in the B.C. Provincial Championships in Kamloops at the end of November. USS is not eliminated from provincials contention just yet though and Grigg said he was confident heading into Tuesday’s one-game playoff against Mulgrave.
“We’ve got a really strong team this year. The boys have really shown that they can play at a really high level,” he said. “I’m very confident that whoever we face and whatever their skill level, we will put up competition…We are a provincial calibre team, we just have to earn our right to be there.”