A new champion was crowned at the 2013 Jon Bragg Memorial senior boys volleyball tournament at College Heights secondary.
The gold-medal match featured a pair of schools who had never won the trophy, the D.P. Todd Trojans and the Caledonia Kermodes (Terrace) so an eighth school was going to be added the trophy no matter who won. After an intense three-set match where both teams had trouble earning consecutive points the Kermodes emerged victorious 2-1 (25-23, 21-25 and 15-13).
Kermodes coach Rich Clair said this year's team is the strongest one Caledonia has had in several years and the boys played well in all their matches Friday and Saturday.
"They've played their best volleyball since I've been involved with the team," said Clair. "The key was our guys didn't get rattled when we fell behind. When they made mistakes they just put it behind them and kept on playing."
The Kermodes were led by their captain, three-year senior team member, Keel Haldane - son of former Canadian men's national player and 2012 Olympian for Great Britain Jason Haldane. The Grade 12 student's dad was born in Terrace to a British father, which allowed him to gain citizenship in Great Britain after he was denied an opportunity to make the Canadian Olympic team three times.
The younger Haldane inherited his dad's volleyball skill.
"The players on the team follow his lead," said Clair. "He's got really good skills and also he's a great kid with a great attitude and has really lifted the team's expectations of themselves."
In the final against the Trojans, Haldane was able to deliver his lethal spike often, especially in the first and third sets when the 17-year-old successfully had several kills.
"It was a little bit nervous at the beginning but we managed to pull through, which was pretty crazy," said Haldane. "We just wanted to win really badly and we just focused and managed to pull through."
The Kermodes named Haldane and Kai Davies as tournament all-stars, while the Trojans singled out Haydn and Joel Molcak. Other all-stars were: Eric Lamoth (Duchess 2), Jared Apolczer (CHSS Jr.), Edan Singh (Duchess Jr.), Owen Delege (Houston), Brady Patterson (CHSS) and Angus Godfrey (Duchess 1).
Haldane was the difference maker in the semifinal against the host CHSS Cougars, said coach Linden Smith about his team's emotional three-set loss 2-1 (26-24, 14-25 and 16-18).
"We kind of lost all intensity after that loss and didn't play to our full potential in the bronze-medal game," said Smith about losing the third-place game to the Duchess Park Condors 1 team (25-21, 25-17).
Smith said with the way Haldane hits the ball it makes it difficult for the defenders to react.
"Keel hits a heavy ball and it changes the speed of the game, even with a high set like his setter does use sometimes, the way he swings the ball it comes out hard and goes down fast," said Smith.
The Cougars finished second in Pool A with a 2-1 record, their only loss coming to the Trojans (3-0 in the pool). Houston Christian posted a 1-2 record and the Condor Junior team was 0-3.
In Pool B, the Kermodes were 3-0 followed by the Condors 1 (2-1), Condors 2 (1-2) and CHSS Cougar Juniors (0-3).
Before losing two sets in the final, the Trojans were 8-0 in sets during the tournament and according to power hitter Haydn Molcak was playing their best volleyball of the season.
The Cougars Jr. team and Condors 2 tied for seventh place and Houston and the Condors Jr. team shared fifth place.
The Jon Bragg Memorial volleyball tournament started in 1997 in honour of the former Cougars volleyball player who died in a car crash when he was in Grade 11.