The South Delta Sun Devils are hoping they have saved their best for last as they take aim at provincial girls volleyball glory starting Thursday in Kelowna.
A year ago, the Sun Devils came agonizingly close to capturing their fourth B.C. title in school history, dropping a five-set heartbreaker to the Riverside Rapids in Nanaimo. South Delta was a single point away from victory when their PoCo rival rallied with three unanswered points to win the fourth set 26-24 and then went on to capture the decisive set 15-9.
A number of players returning from that team, including provincial all-stars Mackenzie Campbell and Myah Cressy, along with key starter Rachel Rosser, helped propel the Sun Devils at or near the top of the provincial rankings for much of this season. However, as the campaign has unfolded, the city of Kelowna has emerged as a “hot spot” for B.C. girls volleyball at the AAAA level for the largest schools.
The Okanagan-Mission Huskies now hold down the No. 1 ranking thanks to a pair of recent wins over South Delta, including the Red Serge Classic gold medal match three weeks ago in Port Coquitlam. The Huskies also happen to be hosting this year’s provincial tourney. Nearby rival Mt. Boucherie is the No. 2 seed while Riverside and Dover Bay round out the top four based on winning their zone tournaments.
The Sun Devils head to the Kelowna as the No. 7 seed after falling 3-1 to cross-town rival Seaquam in the South Fraser final two weeks ago. They will get a significant boost with the return of Cressy from a sprained ankle she suffered in the quarter-final round of the Red Serge Classic.
“We’re just excited to have the opportunity to try and win the school another banner,” said the versatile 6-foot Campbell who has shifted back to her natural position at setter for her Grade 12 year after playing right outside. “Getting Myah back is big because she is such a key asset to our team and we just run so much through the middle. “We understand why we are (the seventh seed) but definitely are going there with something to prove.”
A trip to Kelowna Secondary’s Best of the West Tournament last month should be beneficial as well. South Delta lost to Okanagan-Mission in the semi-finals.
“It was very important to get the opportunity to go up there and play against those top teams. Now we know exactly what the environment is going to be like,” added Campbell.
The 16-team championships will open with a day one of power play pool games that will determine the playoff match-ups. If the Devils can sweep No. 5 Seaquam, No. 6 Kelowna and No. 8 Nanaimo they would move up to the No. 4 seed.
“Last year I thought there were maybe three or four teams that could have out right won it and this year there is like eight,” said South Delta head coach Dan Burgess. “Are we one of those eight? Absolutely. If we are firing on all cylinders we can beat anyone in the province but there are six or seven other teams that can do that too.
“When you get to those final eight teams it’s going to be fierce so I think you really want to try and get that fourth seed. It would also tell everybody South Delta is back.”
At the net…
Kelowna is also hosting the B.C. Boys AAA Championships where the Delta Pacers are seeded eighth after their third place finish in the South Fraser playoffs. Meanwhile in Prince George, South Fraser champion Southpointe Academy Titans are seeded fifth for the B.C. “A” Girls Championships.