A local volleyball club team has left the opposition feeling ‘Blue’.
The Fraser Valley Volleyball Club Blue U16 boys squad capped off a remarkable season in which they lost just one match against competition in their age group with a victory at the Canadian club national championships.
The team defeated the Ottawa Fusion 2-1 for the tier 1 gold medal on Saturday in Toronto.
The Fusion had won the first set, 25-21, but the Fraser Valley club stayed alive with a 25-18 victory and then took the decisive set 15-13.
The win capped off a 9-0 performance at nationals where the squad dropped just three sets.
And while their record may look spotless — they went 9-0 at nationals and dropped just three of the 21 sets — the team was tested, both in Toronto and over the club season.
“This is easily the most resilient group of 16-year-old athletes I have ever seen,” said coach Jordan Geransky.
“This team was pushed to the limits in pressure situations throughout the year and demonstrated the ability to overcome deficits in the most unlikely of scenarios.”
He gave the example of the tournament’s second day, in a patch against Edmonton’s FOG Black.
Fraser Valley dropped the opening set 25-12 and everything seemed to be going against the team and the players could not get into a rhythm.
The team found itself trailing 9-4 in the second set, but they found a way to battle back to win the set and tie the match, before taking the third set.
“It takes a very special group of athletes to maintain the composure to win that type of match,” Geransky said. “Yet that is what they did all year.”
The same scenario took place in the national final.
“The boys re-focused and relied on their past experience to remain patient and stick to the game plan.
“This group had a lot of character to battle all of this adversity and it was the first thing acknowledged by nearly every coach I talked to at the national tournament.”
A big part of the team’s success came midway through the season when the team lost their lone match, at a tournament against Kelowna Volleyball Club.
“The team identified that they did not want to deal with the disappointment of being knocked out of a tournament agains and with the hard work they put in, they never had to,” Geransky said.
A big reason for the team’s success was its depth.
“There was no player (who) had to carry the team as the roster had great balance across the board,” the coach said.
“Different players stepped up at different times to help carry this team to win the national banner,” Geransky said.
Outside hitter Ben Lieuwen won MVP both at nationals and two weeks ago when the team won provincials.
Middle Jacob Smith and left-side hitter Braden Heppell also earned all-star awards at nationals while setter Denham O’Reilly and left-side hitter Michael Hsu won all-stars at provincials.
The team consists of Jake Hagen, Denham O’Reilly, Tristan Loewen, Joel Hansen, Ben Lieuwen, Michael Hsu, Braden Heppell, Carson Heppell, Jacob Smith, Byron Keturakis, Jeff Driediger, Tim Edge, Jon Hellner and Jeremy Hansma.
Coaches are Jordan Geransky, Lucas Van Berkel and Ryan Lescisin.