Troy Landreville and bob carter
Powered by all-star Kaden Gamache and tournament MVP Colton Loewen, Abbosford’s MEI Eagles pushed past the Langley Fundamental Titans Saturday to repeat as B.C. senior boys AA volleyball champions.
The Eagles made a statement in the opening set, winning 25-13.
“It was about as clean a set as we’ve played this year,” MEI coach Jordan Geransky said.
Langley Fundamental, which played extremely well in beating Pacific Academy in the semifinals, seemingly had control of the second set as all-star Phil Stahl sparked a 19-15 lead.
But MEI snapped back.
Gamache hammered a kill, Loewen rapped a hard serve into an over-bump that Cade Smith put away, and two points later, Carson Bargens block gave the Eagles the lead.
With the score 24-24, consecutive kills by Loewen won the set for MEI.
In the third set, the Eagles used a 4-0 closing run to end the Titans’ upset hopes and take their 10th all-time title.
Looking back at the season as a whole, Titans coach Dan Johnson was very happy with the way his team played.
The Titans started strong, winning the Douglas College tournament and then coming second at the UBC tourney.
Johnson noted that some of the stronger teams adjusted to Langley Fundamental’s play and the Titans ended up fourth in Fraser Valleys, losing to Langley Christian and Pacific Academy.
“We needed to change our lineup around after Fraser Valleys in order to compete better,” Johnson noted. “The lineup changes helped in provincials as we were able to get by Langley Christian in the quarters as well as PA [Pacific Academy] in the semis.”
In the B.C. semifinals, the young, sixth-seeded Titans swept past Pacific Academy, the second seed, in three sets to vault into the gold medal.
Johnson said the semifinal win over the Breakers was “one of our best played games of the year.”
“PA is a fantastic team that hits hard and has fantastic players. It was a hard fought battle with both teams siding out very effectively,” Johnson remarked. “We won the first barely, came back from a four-point deficit to take game two and kept up our intensity to take game three. [It’s] very hard to win three in a row against PA.”
The semifinal win over Pacific Academy can be termed an upset, as the Titans had gone 1-2 against the Breakers this season, losing badly in the zone bronze medal match.
After that one, Johnson called for some new offensive strategy.
“Some of our guys were getting tentative on their hits,” he said. “We told them to attack the block rather than hitting around it.”
Max Heppell and Stahl enjoyed the smash-mouth game Friday, leading to a 25-21, 25-23, 25-18 victory.
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Johnson thought the match turned when his team overcame a four-point deficit in the second set and took a 2-0 lead.
“Our whole team was engaged tonight,” said Johnson, whose offence started to percolate after setter Zec Johnson moved to an attacking role (Johnson was also named as a provincial all-star).
Before that, the Titans defeated third seed Langley Christian, as Langley Fundamental looked to win their second title in three years.
Leading up to the playoffs, Langley Fundamental lost to College Heights and then edged George Elliot in three-set matches, before beating Pacific Academy in two sets to place second in Pool B.
It took four sets for Langley Fundamental to get past DP Todd in their first playoff matchup.
The Titans include Mohammad Fadaie, Jordan Goh, Brock Fast, Phillip Stahl, Jacob Dewolff, Luc DeGianni, Zec Johnson, Brendan Gill, Maxwell Heppell, head coach- Dan Johnson and assistant coach Hassan Fadaie.
Meanwhile, the Langley Christian Lightning lost in two sets to MEI to open the tournament, swept Clarence Fulton in two sets, and lost to Pacific Academy in two sets to finish third in Pool A.
The Lightning then beat Woodlands in their first playoff match-up to advance to the quarter-final game versus Langley Fundamental.
In the AAA competition, the Walnut Grove Gators beat Van Tech and lost to Oak Bay and Fraser Heights in Pool F action.
The Gators then swept Riverside before losing to Surrey Christian in the placement rounds.