What a wild ride.
The Mount Baker Secondary Senior boys volleyball team stayed undefeated at the 2017 Big Kahuna BC Boys Championships, all the way until the end of the fifth set of the final match.
Facing the defending champion Semiahmoo Secondary Totems for gold on Saturday evening, the Wild came up just short of an amazing comeback and earned the program their third AAA Senior Boys Volleyball Championship silver medal, having also placed second in 2001 and 2009.
A back-and-forth match, MBSS fell 25-21 and 25-22 in the first two sets, before dominating the next two sets with 25-18 and 25-12 wins, forcing an always unpredictable fifth frame of play.
Despite notable performances throughout the tournament from libero Parker Thomson, as well as teammates Dawson Atwood, Quinn Grist and Caleb Peters, the team lost a little momentum in the final minutes of action, but didn’t go down without a fight.
Peters, a recruit for the hometown College of the Rockies Avalanche, put the team on his back at the end of the title match, with some outstanding offensive and defensive plays.
In the end though, experience pushed Semiahmoo through with a 15-12 final set and their leading outside hitter (and back-to-back provincial MVP) Michael Dowhaniuk tipped in the final point.
Despite the loss, the moment they set foot on the court at the Langley Event Centre, the Wild proved themselves capable of playing well against anyone in the province. As the top-ranked team heading into the tournament, they quickly showed that they meant business.
Going undefeated in their round robin ‘power pool’, with three straight two-set victories on Wednesday against Earl Marriott Secondary (25-13, 27-25), Delta Secondary (25-10, 25-17) and Oak Bay Secondary (25-19, 25-22), the team breezed into the championship bracket.
Playing best-of-five set matches in the elimination bracket, the Wild then defeated Victoria’s Reynolds Secondary in four sets (25-22, 23-25, 25-19, 25-17). The next day, the team booked a ticket into the semifinals by beating Surrey’s Elgin Park in three (25-18, 25-15, 25-17).
In the semis, MBSS dominated North Delta’s Seaquam Secondary with a 25-11 first set win and finished them off early with subsequent 25-23 and 25-14 victories.
Waiting until Saturday evening for their gold medal game, the Wild got a shot at the reigning champs, but ultimately couldn’t get the job done. The second place finish was, however, a major upgrade from the team’s previous tournament in 2016, in which they finished 11th.
At the conclusion of the weekend, both Peters and Grist were selected as members of the tournament’s first all-star team, before the entire team was presented with their silver medals.
The MBSS Senior girls, meanwhile, finished the AAAA tournament — also taking place in Langley — in 13th place out of 16 teams.
While they were competitive on their opening day, losing in two close sets to Earl Marriott (23-25, 18-25), then a three-set heartbreaker to South Delta Secondary (24-26, 25-12, 12-15) and finally another straight-set defeat to Vancouver Technical School (16-25, 24-26), they finished fourth in their pool.
From there, they were knocked out of the championship bracket by losing to Handsworth Secondary School and eventually settled for 13th after beating Vancouver’s Moscrop Secondary in their final game of the weekend.
While neither team will be entirely satisfied by their finishes, and the boys program is now still searching for their first ever provincial title, there is no doubt that the lengthy journey to the Lower Mainland was well worth it and the Wild did Cranbrook and the East Kootenays proud.