B.C. gold is in the flight plan.
Last season, the Duchess Park Condors pounded their way to a fourth-place finish at the senior boys volleyball double-A provincial championship tournament. This season, only two players are missing from that team -- starting middle blocker Lon Kerr and serving specialist Keefer Zohner. With everybody else back in uniform, the Condors have an opportunity to do something special this year and want to take full advantage of their situation.
The Duchess boys got their new season off to a strong start by winning the PGYVC Kodiak Classic on the weekend. In Saturday's final at CNC, they met a young D.P. Todd Trojans squad and prevailed in two sets, 25-14, 25-16. The Condors played well in the match but showed they have room for improvement, especially in one of the most basic areas of the game.
"Our goal is to be at the top of the province and if we want to compete with the best, we've got to get our passing down a little better," said Condors coach Keith Wood.
"Our passing was a lot lower than we expected so that's something we're going to be working on."
In pre-season provincial rankings released Tuesday, the Condors were No. 2 in the double-A division, behind the defending-champion MEI Eagles of Abbotsford. The Langley Christian Lightning, who beat Duchess for B.C. bronze last season, were ranked third.
At the eight-team Kodiak Classic, the Condors were basically untouchable. On their way to the tournament title, they dropped just one set, that to the Kelly Road Roadrunners.
"We were playing mature and that was our goal -- not to have the ups and downs that we had last year," Wood said. "We want to be professional about it. Sometimes you're going to get stuffed, sometimes you're going to get a big kill, but let's just maintain a constant level of play. And that was very good. I was very impressed with that."
During the Classic, a lot of the Condors' kills were delivered by Grade 12 outside hitter David Robinson, who was chosen as the tournament's most valuable player. Not many guys in the province hit harder than the six-foot-one Robinson and he'll be fed all season by setter Sam Yurkowski, whose skills landed him on Team B.C. during the summer.
In Robinson's opinion, Yurkowski would have been a better choice as MVP at the Kodiak Classic.
"He's a great setter," Robinson said. "We've got to pass better and have smarter hits, but our setting is really good -- we don't need to work on setting."
Yurkowski was handed an all-star award instead, as was Duchess Park's Nathanial Pawluk. Josh Colley, another Condor, was picked as the top defensive player.
The Kodiak Classic all-star team was rounded out by Jordan Foot and Sean Gaiesky of D.P. Todd, Matt Starzyk of College Heights and John Polnick of Kelly Road.
College Heights defeated Kelly Road in the bronze-medal match.
n The Cedars Christian School Eagles also found their way onto Tuesday's provincial rankings. The Eagles are listed at No. 7 in the single-A category.