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Senior girls slug it out on the court

If the North Peace Ookapiks and PGSS Polars meet in the final of their next tournament, a spot in provincials will go to the winner.

If the North Peace Ookapiks and PGSS Polars meet in the final of their next tournament, a spot in provincials will go to the winner.

Those who witnessed a Saturday night slugfest between the two senior girls volleyball teams would certainly welcome a rematch.

In the championship game of an 11-team PGSS gathering, the Ooks and Polars went the full three sets before the Ooks secured a victory. The underdog Polars won the first set 25-23, the Ooks took a thrilling second set 30-28 and then used that momentum to win 15-8 in the third.

This coming weekend, PGSS will host the quadruple-A zone championship, which will send one team to provincials, Dec. 1-4 in Nanaimo. The Ooks, Polars and Correlieu Clan of Quesnel will contend for the B.C. berth, with the final scheduled for late Saturday afternoon.

"It would be very nice if we get an opportunity to play them in the final," said PGSS coach Allan Tong. "Correlieu will have something to say about that, but I think we match up pretty good against North Peace."

The Polars proved exactly that in Saturday's tilt. This season, they have been plagued by inconsistent performances and lapses in intensity. But, against the Fort St. John-based Ooks, they took their play to new heights and were almost rewarded with their first tournament victory.

"It seems like the girls finally realized how good they can play," Tong said. "Things were going right for them so that was great to see."

The Polars held the lead for most of the first set and, when challenged late by the Ooks, held them off for the victory. In the epic second set, PGSS was oh-so-close to closing out the match but, with a 26-25 lead, couldn't finish off North Peace. The Polars showed their character by canceling four set points for the Ooks but finally lost on a North Peace stuff block.

In the third, the Ooks built up a quick 8-3 lead and later won the match on a cross-court slam by power hitter Barb Cranston.

PGSS got great performances from everybody on the court but no two players shone brighter than setter Brooklyn Seemann and middle blocker Erika Morris. Again and again, Morris pounded kill shots on quick sets by Seemann, and the Ooks never really did neutralize that threat.

"We've been playing together since junior and we've been together for a while in club seasons too," Morris said. "Sometimes we struggle to get our connections but in that final game we were really connecting well together."

North Peace coach Jerrick Salinas was full of praise for the Polars.

"They really stepped up," Salinas said. "Playing in front of their crowd, in their home tournament, I think really made a difference. They really wanted to win and it showed. Their big girls, (Morgan Reid) and Morris, we haven't seen them hit like that in previous tournaments."

The Ooks entered the weekend as the sixth-ranked quadruple-A team in B.C. The tournament win was their fifth in six events.

In Saturday's bronze-medal match, the Duchess Park Condors beat Correlieu 16-25, 25-19, 16-14.

See Tuesday's Citizen for more high school volleyball coverage.