The Smithers Secondary senior boys’ and girls’ volleyball teams fell short at provincials over the weekend.
The boys team finished the AA provincials in 11th place, while the girls placed 14th of 16 teams.
Ten boys, eight Grade 12’s and two Grade 11’s, travelled to Langley to compete against 16 other teams during this year’s provincials.
Going in, the Gryphons were ranked 15th in the province.
“For us, we really didn’t have anything to lose,” said head coach Stuart Van Horn. “We just wanted to improve on our rankings.”
In their first pool play, the Gryphons came in second of three, a pool Van Horn believes they should have won.
“We were a little bit tight in our first game. We were probably the first in our pool, but we came in second,” he said.
Following their pool play, the Gryphons took on Princess Margaret Secondary School from Penticton, the third-ranked team in the province.
Despite the Gryphons’ strong defence that helped keep them in the game, they lost three straight sets.
“It didn’t go as well as we had hoped as they were a pretty strong team,” said Van Horn.
“They were actually moving on the court and digging stuff up, which held them in the games and got them as far along as it did. It was impressive,” he said of the team’s defence that really stepped up.
The turning point of the tournament was the game against Selkirk when the Gryphons beat the higher-ranked team, two sets to none.
“That was a big game for us, we had already lost in the consolation round, but we really needed to win that Selkirk game.
“It was a good spot for us to be at that time,” said Van Horn.
The Gryphons’ 11th place finish marks the end of the season for a senior team who has been playing together for almost four years.
“We had a good season this year. I’ve been with these guys since Grade 8,” said Van Horn.
“We had a good finish and I’m very proud of how the boys played.”
This was also the last time the veteran coach will attend provincials.
“It’s the end for me, I think I’ll be retiring,” said Van Horn who has been coaching various sports for the past 25 years.
“You get a real bond with the kids and you watch them grow up — they’re almost like your own kids, your extended family.”