So close a year ago, the Credo Christian Kodiaks finished the job this time around.
At this time last year, the Kodiaks senior boys’ volleyball team was serving for championship point in the fifth and decisive set of the B.C. Single A provincial championships. But their opponent, the Kelowna Christian Knights staved off elimination and scored all of the remaining points to win 16-14 and capture the provincial title.
The victory denied Credo Christian a third straight provincial title.
“No one likes losing in the final, especially the way we did,” said Credo Christian’s Connor Pruim, a Grade 12 middle on the squad.
“This year, we didn’t want to get too excited before we won.”
But there would be no comeback this time around, as the Kodiaks won 3-0 over the Abbotsford Christian Knights in the gold medal game on Saturday night.
The championships were held on Vancouver Island at Duncan Christian School.
“It is nice to know that after last year’s loss, we were able to come back and win our senior year,” said David Noort, a Grade 12 right-side hitter on the team.
“It is great to get the job done,” Pruim added.
Both Noort and Pruim were named to the tournament’s all-star team.
Coach Stan de Haan said his players learned from last year’s heartbreak.
“That gave the guys the experience and the realization of how hard they had to work to get to that point again,” he said, adding that the players were devastated by the 2012 defeat.
Six members of the current team were part of that Kodiaks squad, including Zach Vanderploeg, the team’s setter. He was also named the tournament’s most outstanding player.
“As a team, we all knew that we did not want that to happen again,” Vanderploeg said.
“So (the loss) had a big role in motivating us.”
It has been a dominant season for the Kodiaks on the court as they defeated every Single A opponent they faced. Their lone losses came at the hands of some AA and AAA teams in tournaments over the course of the season.
That didn’t mean the season wasn’t without its challenges.
Just prior to the provincial championships, the Kodiaks lost their starting middle Chris Snijder to injury.
But up stepped William Vanspronsen, who had never played volleyball prior to this season.
Snijder returned to the line-up for the gold medal game.
And against the Knights — a team they had already beaten three times (most recently in the Fraser Valley final) —the Kodiaks knew they matched up well.
“We could block their main hitters and our main hitters didn’t have the biggest block up against them,” Vanderploeg said.
“Everybody was confident and very capable,” Noort added.
“We didn’t have any weaknesses out on the floor; we just had to come out and play our game.”
The Kodiaks won a total eight matches over the three days and didn’t drop a set once the playoff round began.
The first five matches were best-of-three and three times Credo Christian was pushed to a deciding set. But once the playoff rounds began — and were best-of-five — the Kodiaks did not drop a set.
The players credited their captain, James de Leeuw, for setting the team’s tone.
“Before every game, our captain would tell us to stay confident, but not cocky,” Pruim said. “Just play smooth.”
At the Fraser Valley championships earlier this month, Noort, Vanderploeg and Pruim were also named all-stars.