In a battle of the top two seeds — and a rematch of last year’s championship final, the defending champion Belmont Bulldogs were clinical, carving up the Handsworth Royals for a repeat victory.
The Royals scored the first two points of the BC high school volleyball girls AAAA gold-medal game on Saturday afternoon at the Langley Events Centre, but it was all Bulldogs the rest of the way.
Belmont, the Island champions, won 3-0, taking the first set 25-12 and then winning by identical 25-16 scores in sets two and three.
The relatively easy victory came as a surprise to Belmont coach Mike Toakley.
“But maybe we shouldn’t be surprised after the match they went through with Earl Marriott,” he said, taking about Handsworth’s five-set victory over the Mariners earlier that day.
Belmont defeated Semiahmoo 3-0 in the other semifinal.
“Going to five sets takes a lot out of you. I think from the get-go, it was obvious they were not as strong as they normally would be — we played them earlier this year and we know how good they are when they are fresh.
Not only did the Bulldogs win every match at provincials, but they also only dropped one set the entire way.
After going 3-0 on Thursday in pool play, Belmont faced the Lord Tweedsmuir Panthers in the round of 16 on Friday morning and while the Panthers lost the match, they did manage to win a set off the Bulldogs.
Toakley said the team’s championship experience from last year came in handy during that match.
“We had a really tough team … in the round of 16 and they gave us all they could handle,” he explained. “We knew from the past experience that you can never take any round for granted and that was the time when their experience kicked in the most.”
The Bulldogs were led by Grade 12 star Savannah Purdy, who picked up her second consecutive most outstanding player award.
She said last year’s experience really helped.
“It was huge being in the provincial final last year, just knowing what to expect and what it takes, I think just helped us prepare and compete this weekend,” Purdy said.
“It is really cool to be recognized but everyone on our team played extremely well so I couldn’t have done that without them,” she said.
Purdy said the team’s familiarity with one another — the majority of the team has played together since Grade 8 and they also play club volleyball together — is a big factor in their success.
“We have been playing together for a really long time so we are good at calming each other down when we are on the court and playing as a team,” she said.
“And we are really good friends off the court so I think the chemistry really transfers when you are playing, just knowing they are there for you is huge.”
Belmont’s Grace May was a second team all-star while Taylee Pomponio and Miranda Cry were first team all-stars.
Handsworth’s Courtney Steele was named the tournament’s most outstanding libero while the Royals’ Kayla Oxland was a first team all-star.
Toakley said his team keyed on Oxland.
“She is the straw that stirs the drink for sure,” he said. “She is so fast and so athletic, anything you can do to get her off the game is going to help you.”
In the bronze-medal game, it was Earl Marriott defeating Semiahmoo 2-0 to place third.
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