Given where the South Delta Sun Devils season was about two weeks ago, a 14th place finish at the B.C. AAAA Girls Volleyball Championships doesn’t look bad at all.
The Sun Devils’ 2019 campaign was dangling by a thread after failing to initially qualify for provincials through the very challenging South Fraser playoffs. They needed to prevail at a six-team one day wild card tournament that offered two berths into the showcase tourney.
South Delta clutched up to win three games in straight sets over Walnut Grove, Terry Fox and Burnaby North to punch its ticket to the Langley Events Centre.
“It was amazing. They outperformed all night and looked like a machine,” said Dan Burgess in his ninth year as head coach. “It was by far our best night of the season just in terms of consistency. None of those matches were gimmes either. The girls were just so energized.”
The Sun Devils headed to the LEC last week as one of the lower seeded teams in the 20-school event but showed why they had been ranked for much of the season in pool play. A tough three-set loss to No. 3 ranked Handsworth was followed by a pair of wins, including a big 2-1 triumph over South Fraser runner-up Elgin Park.
South Delta was off to the round of 16 against the Riverside Rapids that also rocked the pre-tournament seedings with a strong day one showing. The Port Coquitlam school prevailed 25-21 in the opening set and the Devils failed to respond to the close loss, dropping the next two sets 25-17 and 25-16.
“Riverside won the junior provincials the previous weekend and I was told five of the players on the floor against us had come up to play senior,” added Burgess. “But I still thought we could do it. We definitely didn’t play our best match. It was a bunch of things. We couldn’t get our pass going and we couldn’t get our serve going. We just couldn’t attack and our team is really good when we are attacking.”
The Sun Devils closed out their season going 1-2 in consolation play — falling to Burnaby Central (2-0) and defeating Sardis (2-1) before dropping a three-setter to Elgin Park.
The team included: Grade 12s — Ginny Nichols, Sarah Foster, Caroline Wolsey, Monica Muszynski, Nicola Bancroft, Hillary Nelson, Faith Kwiatkowski and Gaby Rondou. Grade 11s — Logan Newis, Sophie Schuurman-Hess, Amy Hendrickson, Hayley Reid, Morgan Bouchey, Sophia Buckley and Kiara Sherritt.
At the net…
Of the nearly 80 boys and girls teams competing in the four different tiers at the LEC, no school was treated better than SDSS.
Teacher and assistant coach Gatlin Saip’s dad happens to be Vancouver Giants Senior Vice-President Dale Saip. With the WHL team on the road last weekend, the Sun Devils had exclusive access to the Giants dressing room and training area the entire tournament.