Already the No. 1-ranked AA girls volleyball team in the Okanagan, the George Elliot Coyotes strengthen their hold on that standing with a tournament win at their own Coyote Classic on the weekend.
A 2-1 (16-25 25-21, 16-14) upset triumph over the 4A Kelowna Owls — ranked No. 3 provincially — in the championship match marked the first time in recent memory the Lake Country team had been able to get the better of their downtown sisters.
The Coyotes, seeded No. 7 in the province in last week’s B.C. rankings and coming off a fourth-place finish at the Best Of The West tournament at Kelowna Secondary School, earned a berth in the final with a grueling 2-1 (26-24, 25-27, 15-8) semifinal win over the 4A Penticton Lakers.
Earlier, GESS knocked off Summerland in quarter-final play after winning a lone preliminary match over the 4A Mt. Boucherie Bears.
It was another well-rounded team effort for the Coyotes, led by tournament all-stars Tessa Ivans and Jasanna Kunz.
Julia Paulson and Thea Ley were utilized as serving substitutes and back-row specialists and they came through with a combined 18 digs in the final.
Maya Ufimzeff and Georgia Maclean worked hard to contain the extremely strong KSS middle players with Maclean leading the team with three blocks.
Sheena Macfarlane did a great job setting and running the Coyotes’ offence. Elliot’s captain and emotional leader, Abby Einarson, was a force on the right side throughout the weekend, chipping in with three kills and four digs.
“It was all very exciting for the team to be able to defeat KSS for the first time in many years,” said Coyotes head coach Doug Meraw. “KSS played very well and I’m sure they’ll be looking for revenge at the city championships next week.”
Meanwhile, the Owls, second-place finishers at their own BOTW tournament two weekends earlier, had their hands full with provincially No. 5-ranked Okanagan Mission Huskies in semifinal play at Elliot.
They won the first set 25-19 but fell 18-25 in the second before outlasting the Huskies 16-14 in the third for the right to advance against Elliot. KSS had defeated the Kalamalka Lakers in quarter-final play.
The Huskies went on to drop a 2-1 (25-19, 17-25, 15-3) decision to Penticton in the bronze-medal match.
The George Elliot Coyotes retained their AA No. 1 ranking in the province with a second-place finish at the Thompson Rivers University senior boys volleyball tournament in Kamloops on the weekend.
Winners of the recent Best Of The West tournament at KSS, the Coyotes reached the final of the 24-team TRU event — winning five matches along the way — only to drop a 2-1 (29-27, 15-25, 10-15) decision to the Earl Marriott Mariners of Surrey, ranked No. 1 in the AAA division.
The Coyotes, after fighting back from a late four-point deficit against Earl Marriott in the first set of the title match, played so poorly to start the second that coach Chris Frehlick went to his young but deep bench to try to shake things up.
I didn’t work, as the Coyotes lost that one and got down early and managed just the 10 points in the final set.
Frehlick got another solid team effort while lauding the play of his weekend leaders, middles Tom Parish and Garrett Anderson, who attacked and blocked exceptionally well throughout.
Ben Magel, a leftside almost at full strength after a lengthy back injury, also came through with a strong performance while Brandon Frechette continued to play notably well at libero.
The Kelowna Owls, ranked No. 5 in the AAA provincial rankings going into the weekend, finished in a tie for ninth place while the Okanagan Mission Huskies (No. 10 - AAA) tied for 15th with the Mt. Boucherie Bears.
Many of the same teams at TRU will be in Lake Country this weekend for the annual George Elliot Coyotes Classic.
Play begins on Friday with the Coyotes taking on the Rutland Voodoos at 10:45 a.m. and the Kelowna Owls playing the Kelowna Christian School Knights.
The quarter-finals are set for 5:45 p.m. on Friday while the semifinals go at 12:15 p.m. on Saturday. The championship match is scheduled for 3:45 p.m. on Saturday.