College Heights will challenge for B.C. boys volleyball title

The College Heights Cougars think they have what it takes to win a provincial high school double-A boys volleyball medal next weekend in Langley.
They've hovered near the top-five in the B.C. rankings most of the season and on Saturday proved they were the top team in the North Central zone with their straight-set 26-24, 25-9, 25-19 win over the Duchess Park Condors in the best-of-five gold-medal match at D.P. Todd gym.
The Cougars had to dig themselves out of a substantial hole in the opening set and trailed the Condors by nine points at one point. Duchess had an 18-11 lead but there was no panic on the College Heights side of the court. The Cougars rallied around their power hitters, tournament MVP Eli Woldringh and Isaiah Ohori, while middle blocker Ethan Costley and right-side hitter Jared Ebert delivered all-star performances that helped the Cougars cinch the zone title.
"We were very calm and collected through the whole thing," said Cougars head coach Linden Smith. "We didn't get nervous, we just stayed focused on what we had to do and reset and got it back."
College Heights is ranked fifth for the 16-team provincial tournament, Nov. 27-30 in Langley. The Condors, coached by Keith Wood, will also be there, having claimed the second berth with their silver-medal zone finish. Duchess Park is ranked 10th.
After playing some of the better double-A teams like top-ranked Langley Christian early in October  at the Best of the West tournament in Kelowna, the Cougars have mostly faced triple-A teams and Smith said that lack of familiarity will make the opening-day seeding matches at provincials a bit more of a mystery for the Cougars.
"We started in the top-four and after the first few weeks of travel we dropped off a little bit and kind of maintained that five or six spot for most of the year," said Smith. "We've been steadily improving, weekend to weekend and I don't think we've peaked yet. If everybody stays healthy this week and into next week we should have a good shot at breaking that top-four and hopefully finishing with a medal."
In girls zone championship play, the Dawson Creek Penguins lived up their No. 2 provincial ranking and defeated the Duchess Park Condors for the North Central zone title Saturday at Prince George Secondary School. The good news for the Condors is there are two automatic berths in the zone and they will also be in the provincial tournament, Nov. 28-30 in Langley.
The host Polars, who defeated the College Heights Cougars for the zone bronze medal, will travel to Kamloops this weekend to play for a provincial wild-card berth. The Polars were ranked sixth in B.C. heading into zone play, one spot ahead of Duchess Park.
The Kelly Road Roadrunners survived an early scare when they lost the first set of the double-A girls zone championship 25-14 to the D.P. Todd Trojans Saturday at Kelly Road. The Roadrunners took the next three sets, 25-21, 25-16, 25-19, to book themselves a spot in the 16-team B.C. championship, Nov. 27-30 in Vernon.
Kelly Road finished 14th last year in the provincial tournament. The Trojans will head to Vancouver this weekend for a wild-card playoff to try to qualify for provincials.

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