The Mount Baker Secondary Wild senior volleyball teams departed for the Lower Mainland today, where they will be competing at the 2017 Big Kahuna B.C. Volleyball Championship.
At the provincial tournament, the boys team will be participating in the AAA competition and the girls will be in AAAA. Both events are being held at the Langley Events Centre.
Being so far from the major population-centre of the province, the Wild teams always enter the event feeling like underdogs, but this year the boys have some prestige to their name.
Speaking to the Townsman in early November, coach Karley Ferner said that the placement was ‘surreal’.
“We don’t get to play in a lot of tournaments in B.C. so [the position is] based on competing against Alberta teams that are highly ranked,” Ferner said. “It’s nice to be up there, [but it] also makes us a little nervous because we haven’t played a lot of the teams that we will be playing at Provincials.”
The team has some big players in the middle, including Grade 11 students Jordan Simpson (6’7) and Sheldon Thomas (6’4) who joined a stellar front row which already featured a pair of 6’5 Grade 12 students: right-side hitter Caleb Peters, who will play with the College of the Rockies Avalanche next fall, and power hitter Dawson Atwood.
According to Ferner, despite their high ranking, they will not be over-confident heading into tournament.
“[Most other schools] get to play a lot of interleague games, so they have a lot more game time throughout the season,” she said. “They know each other really well [and] know the strengths and weaknesses of all the other teams.
“We’ll have to learn quickly once we get there, where we need to focus our energy for each team and I think it will definitely be a test for the boys to come in and play intensely in every single game.”
The boys tournament is structured into ‘power pools’ for the round robin, with Mount Baker being the top seed in a group that includes the next three best schools: Delta Secondary, Oak Bay Secondary and Earl Marriott Secondary.
MBSS has never won gold at a provincial tournament before, having earned silver medals in 2001 and 2009. Last year, the Wild finished in 11th place.
Although the team had a slow schedule over the last month, they got some exhibition action in at home last weekend including a fun match against the Mount Baker Junior boys.
“We’ve had some previous volleyball players that have played college and university players come out and help us,” Ferner said of their preparation. “We’re trying to draw on the knowledge in the community around this sport and really make sure that we’re developing their game right until the very end.”
On the girls side, while the Wild did not make the province’s top 10 rankings, they placed seventh at the event last year and believe that they can be competitive again this time around.
“I think we’ll do fairly well,” said left-side hitter Katie Anderson. “We have a tough pool at the beginning, but I feel that we can place pretty well.”
The Wild are the fourth seed in pool ‘B’ and will play South Delta Secondary, Vancouver Technical Secondary and Earl Marriott, the fourth-best team in B.C.
“We’re always the underdog [and] no one knows who we are, [but] it’s kind of fun being a good team that shows up and everyone turns their heads at Mount Baker,” said left-side Sam Lautrup. “It’s always a cool thing.”
The championship tournament kicks off on Wednesday and concludes on Saturday. Both Cranbrook teams hope to make the long drive back on Sunday with some shiny new medals around their necks.