A top-eight finish was considered realistic.
Instead, the Duchess Park Condors winged their way to gold at the 32-team UBC Okanagan Heat junior girls volleyball tournament in Kelowna on the weekend. In Saturday's championship match, the Condors clashed with Immaculata of Kelowna and had little trouble in a 25-16, 25-17 victory.
"It was really good -- not something we expected," Condors coach Kim Forrest said of the tournament win. "It felt great. The girls were really excited and I was really excited. It was a great accomplishment for them."
Teams from throughout B.C. attended the tournament but Forrest noted that some of the powerhouse clubs from the Greater Vancouver area were absent. In light of that fact, it's a little early to consider the Condors a favourite for a provincial championship this season.
"Semiahmoo, Pacific Academy, MEI -- those are really top Lower Mainland teams and they weren't there so it's tough to tell," Forrest said. "I think we could do well at provincials but I don't know [how we'd do] against those top teams."
In Kelowna, the toughest match for the Condors wasn't the one against Immaculata. Instead, the Duchess girls were given their most serious test in the semifinal round, where they slipped past the Vernon Panthers 13-25, 25-17, 16-14.
"The semis was a really hard match for us," Forrest said.
"[We played] tough defence and were mentally able to stay in the game. When we lost 25-13, that's pretty tough to come back from. At one point [in that set] we were down 17-4. So we got back to 25-13 and when we got to the second set it was, 'It's three sets for a reason, go out there and show them what you've got.' And they went out there and did awesome. And then the third set was point-for-point. They dug deep and were able to come out of it on top."
The Condors lost just two sets all weekend, one to Immaculata in preliminary play and the one to Vernon. Their overall success, Forrest said, was a product of teamwork.
"They don't get down on each other," she said of the players. "When someone makes a mistake, there's nobody getting mad at them or any animosity about anything. They stay positive with each other. They're a great group of girls and they work hard."
Team members are Brooklyn Norman, Madison Landry, Hallie Drezet, Kaitlyn Alger, Brooke Unger, Tana Vassallo, Fallon Astorino, Emily Holmes, Addison Fawcett and Marcie Schlick.
At the beginning of the season, the Condors placed second to the College Heights Cougars at the senior PGYVC Kodiak Classic.
Next up for the Condors is an Oct. 12-13 tournament in Kamloops that will bring together a minimum of 36 teams.