Both Whistler and Pemberton’s high school senior girls’ volleyball teams are celebrating successful fall campaigns after both finished their seasons with school-record results.
The Whistler Secondary School Storm had their great run at the Lower Mainland zone championships stopped by the Pemberton Red Devils, who went on to finish second in the region and fell just short of the provincial ‘A’ championships after hosting wildcard games Monday (Nov. 19) at home.
Langley’s Credo Christian emerged from a wildcard mini-tournament featuring the Devils and Campbell River Christian with one provincial berth on the line. While Pemberton was unable to win either of its two matches, head coach David Dunkin was thrilled with his team’s accomplishment at the zone tournament, where the Devils matched a school-best result.
“Pemberton did finish second at zones way back, but it certainly hasn’t happened in quite a long time,” said Dunkin. “So that’s a huge thing for us, and then to be able to host that wildcard is great for volleyball in our area.”
During the zone championships, the Devils were matched up against their Whistler counterparts in the semifinal and bounced back after dropping the first set to win 2-1 and move on to the title game. Pemberton was topped by Burnaby’s Carver Christian in the final.
Given that volleyball is far from the Spud Valley’s No. 1 sport, and that the short season limits how much time the Devils had on the court together, make the team’s result at the zone championship that much more impressive, said Dunkin.
“It was a great group of kids,” he said. “They came a long way, for sure, and that’s a testament to their commitment.
“I think we really just built from the start all the way to the finish. To lose out on the wildcard is tough, but at the same time, it was nice to peak and get to that wildcard position.”
This year’s Devils were Grade 12 students Simone Beaudry, Charley Field, Tachona Jones, Thea Sturdy, Jessica de Haan and Marlee Andre-Wiltens, as well as Grade 11 players Bailey Raimondo, Clea Liakakos, Lauren Phare, Anne Linklater, Ashley LeBlanc and Desirae Townley.
The Whistler Storm had gone a perfect 3-0 in round-robin play at the zone championship tournament before running into their rivals to the north. Still, a top-four finish within the zone set a new mark for the school, said head coach Laura Wetaski.
“The girls played amazing in order to accomplish that,” she said. “This is the highest place that one of our teams has finished … for several years, teams have gone (to zones) and not even won a game.”
The Storm managed to power through their pool games at zones thanks to great serving, said Wetaski, particularly from left side Katarina Underhill and setter Ramona Seidler. Danielle McCaffrey also had a strong tournament in the middle for Whistler, she said.
The meeting between the Storm and Red Devils at the zone championship wasn’t the only tight Whistler-Pemberton battle this fall, as Wetaski said her team took a set off the Devils in each of their head-to-head contests. Whistler was able to do the same in matches against a strong Howe Sound Secondary squad as well.
“We were happy with being able to take games off both of those teams,” said Wetaski, who is expecting the Storm to be a solid team again next year, since they will lose few players to graduation and have some strong athletes who will move up to varsity age next season.
Other members of the Storm roster included Savannah Pantages, Danielle Maudsley, Georgia Baker, Averi Willis, Sammy Knapton, Hannah Raffler, Maia Kerr, Alexandra Mann, Cassidy Deane and Chantal Deane.