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Duchess Park boys top-seeded in double-A volleyball provincials

Vancouver snowstorm cancels flight, Condors and College Heights Cougars hit the road for trip to Victoria

The Duchess Park Condors know they’ll have targets painted on the backs of their volleyball jerseys this week in Victoria.

Comes with the territory when you’re defending provincial champs.

One year ago in the provincial capital the Condors claimed their first double-A boys B.C. banner since 1999 when they knocked off Langley Christian in a four-set final and on Wednesday they’ll begin defence of that title ranked No. 1 on a list of 16 tournament contenders.

They took care of business two weekends ago at the North Central zone championship when they defeated the College Heights Cougars.

“We’re having a great season so far,” said Condors head coach Jason Weaver. “I’ve been coaching the  core group of kids since Grade 7 in school and club volleyball and this  year I knew it was a big one, coming off the (provincial) win last year. Everybody wants to take down the defending champions from last year.”

Weaver’s son Jeremy plays outside hitter and is one of six Grade 12 students on the team. He’s one of three starters from the Condors’ 2021 provincial championship team, along with middle blocker Esme Long and outside hitter Isaak Lank, the MVP of the zone tournament.

Outside hitter Owen McKee, middle blocker Caleb Emon and zone tournament all star setter Brett Kester are also in their final high school season. Kester was the second-string setter at Duchess Park last year behind provincial MVP Chris Zimmerman. Emon, a track and field athlete, is in his first year of volleyball.

Similar to last year’s team, Duchess Park doesn’t have an abundance of height. Theo Clarke, a Grade 11 middle blocker who is also one of the starting six, stands six-foot-five as the tallest Condor.

“We work well on passing, serving and  defence, as a smaller team,” said Weaver. “We’ve got one guy with some size and then everyone else is pretty short. Esme, for an undersized (six-foot-one) middle, he’s probably one of the top offensive guys, he’s just so fast that he’s pretty hard to block and defend against.”

The other Condor senior boys team players are Grade 11 students Rowen Shaw-Bowers, Finnegan Blair, Daniel Woroshelo, Liam Martin and starting left-side hitter Rowan Teegee Zatorski.

Duchess Park has led the provincial double-A coaches’ poll most of the season, dropping to No. 3 briefly when they lost in the semifinal of the Thompson Rivers University  tournament in Kelowna to Kelowna Secondary, the No. 1-ranked triple-A team. The Condors have been road warriors this season, traveling to tournaments in Abbotsford, Edmonton, Kelowna (twice) and Kamloops. The Condors regained the No. 1 ranking when MEI lost Langley Christian in their zone semifinal.

“The top four or five teams at provincial are all very strong, basically it’s whoever shows up that day,” said coach Weaver.

The Condors and Cougars were forced to scrap their travel plans and drive to Victoria Tuesday due to a snowstorm that hit the Lower Mainland, which cancelled their flight to Vancouver. The two Prince George teams were unable to book a ferry crossing Tuesday night and will have to wait until 7 a.m. Wednesday. Both teams are scheduled to play their first matches Wednesday at 12:30 p.m.

The Condors are grouped in the A power pool with Langley Christian, Abbotsford Christian and MEI. Sixth-ranked College Heights shares Pool B with South Kamloops, host Pacific Christian and Pacific Academy. Power pool matches on Wednesday will determine who plays who in the main draw starting on Thursday.

Cedars Christian girls playing provincials in home gym

High school volleyball fans in Prince George will get to watch the Cedars Christian Eagles try to win a provincial single-A girls championship at home. After winning their 13th straight North Central zone title in a four-set final over the Fort St. James Falcons, the Eagles will host the 16-team provincial tournament starting Thursday in their new hardcourt gym at 701 North Nechako Rd.

Ranked seventh out of 16, Cedars will be in action on Thursday at 11:30 a.m., 3 and 5 p.m. The 16th-ranked Falcons have opening-day matches at 11:30 a.m., 1:50 and 5:20 p.m.

Meanwhile, at the single-A boys provincial championship in Duncan, led by zone MVP John Jeong, the Cedars Christian Eagles will start their provincial title quest on Thursday. The Cedars boys swept Mackenzie two weekends ago in three sets to capture their 15th consecutive zone championship.

At the triple-A girls provincial championship in Lake Country, the zone-champion College Heights Cougars are seeded fourth, two spots up on the sixth-ranked Duchess Park Condors. College Heights defeated the Cougars in four sets (26-24, 24-26, 25-19, 25-17) in the zone championship.

The Shas Ti Kelly Road Grizzlies are seeded 13th in the double-A girls provincial tournament in Merritt. The Grizzlies swept the D.P. Todd Trojans (25-22, 25-14, 25-17).   

The Prince George Polars were ranked 14th in B.C. but lost the triple-A zone boys championship to North Peace of Fort St. John. North Peace will represent North Central at the triple-A provincials in Kelowna.

North Peace will represent North Central at the quad-A girls provincials in Kelowna after their straight-set win over Lake City of Williams lake in the zone final.

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