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Podium finish sends Delta Pacers to Kelowna next week

Ladner school battles its way back to a bronze medal at the South Fraser AAA Championships
Lucas Malinek helped the Delta Pacers power their way to a 3-1 win over Seaquam en route to a bronze medal finish at the South Fraser AAA Boys Volleyball Championships. Next stop is the provincials in Kelowna.

Delta Pacers are taking their season to Kelowna next week after battling their way back to a bronze medal finish at the South Fraser AAA Boys Volleyball Championships.

The Ladner school avenged its only loss of the tournament with a win over the Steveston-London Sharks on Thursday in Richmond. The Pacers have been a fixture in the provincial rankings all season, climbing as high as No. 5 two weeks ago. However, their lofty status meant little in a highly competitive zone that featured five of the top 10 ranked teams in B.C., including No. 2 and eventual champion McMath Wildcats from Steveston.

Delta opened the championships with a four-set loss to the Sharks, resulting in a must-win on Tuesday against Semiahmoo in consolation play. A straight set victory set the stage for Wednesday’s home match against Seaquam, marking the fourth time the cross-town city rivals had squared off with the Seahawks winning each of the earlier meetings.

This time, the Pacers rose to the occasion in a big way, capturing the opening two sets (27-25, 25-18) then sealing a huge 3-1 triumph with a 26-24 fourth set win to clinch a B.C. berth.

According to head coach Andrew Robson, the key to the big bounce back was not hitting the panic button after the opening night loss.

“That was the message the whole time. We knew we were going to have to beat one if not two of the top 10 teams in the province and that was kind of a task. The nice part about the structure of the tournament is that you do get two chances and I told them after the loss they just needed to get better over the next three days and that’s exactly what they did,” said Robson.

“I think the boys were pretty hungry for (Seaquam) and there's never a shortage of motivation playing your crosstown rival. I think we probably also benefited from them coming off a semi-final loss and needing to bounce back. Thursday was a full team effort. We had a couple of guys with standout performances of their season. Everyone was just feeding off each other. We’re very proud of the bronze medal and excited about the provincials.”

Robson figures his team will be seeded between fifth and eighth in Kelowna, meaning an important day one of power pool play is required to set them up for the playoffs.

Quincy Chong was named to the tournament all-star team. The roster also features Tyler Jones, Lucas Malinek, Amir Schurr, Angelo Falcos, Dylan Archbold, Liam Froude, Lukas Oldham, Macin MacDonald, Nate Kirkbride, Nick Regalado and Simon Tate.

The DSS junior boys team is in Kamloops this week for the B.C. Invitational Championships.