Bronze is beautiful to the senior girls volleyball team at Clayton Heights Secondary, where the hard-working teammates are celebrating an impressive performance at last weekend’s provincials.
It’s the best-ever finish for a Clayton Heights volleyball/sports team, which already earned a place in the school’s history books by taking this year’s Fraser Valley Senior Girl’s triple A Volleyball Championships (Nov. 17-18).
Fraser Valley gold put the team in fifth spot heading into the Dec. 1-4 provincials in Prince George, where 16 battle-ready teams faced off in a series of round-robin and tournament matches to determine the lineup heading into the finals.
The team went in feeling really confident, coach Gordon Houchen said. But Clayton Heights lost its first match to Little Flower Academy.
The unexpected setback acted as a wake-up call, forcing the team to re-focus.
It worked; they went on to win the next two round robin matches and defeat their first two opponents in the playoffs, including Highland from Vancouver Island.
“We won the first game and then we lost the next two, so we were down two games to one. We just talked about pulling together as a team, and that it was going to take everybody,” he said.
Clayton won the last two games, taking the set three to two. “That was a big moment, making it to the top four at provincials,” he said.
But then they had to take on the number-one ranked team, Clarence Fulton of Vernon,
“They were a strong team, mostly Grade 12s. They just didn’t make any mistakes,” Houchen said. “They beat us three games to zero. They were the class of the tournament.”
Clarence Fulton went on to win the 2010/2011 AAA Senior Girls Provincial title, while
Clayton Heights once again faced Little Flower Academy in the bronze medal game.
“The girls talked about getting revenge,” he said. “They played awesome.”
Clayton Heights defeated LFA two games to zero, winning the first in a closely matched 26-24 and the second by a more comfortable margin of 25 to 19.
“They were really happy,” their coach Gordon Houchen said, adding the girls felt “kind of vindicated.”
The bronze win caps off a great season that was both fun – and successful – for the team, which has just one player in Grade 12 – Victoria Baird. Seven players are in Grade 11, and two are Grade 10 students.
Clayton Heights played at the quadruple A provincials last year, finishing in sixth place.
Tonya Gulbrandsen and Rachel Proctor were named all stars during the tournament. Proctor, he said, was “kind of our unsung hero of the tournament. She’s been really steady all year, and just a really solid player for us.”
Breanna Evoy took home the MVP award.
Volleyball, Houchen said, is a team game. He’s proud of how the players conducted themselves throughout the season and during the provincial tournament. “It’s the best team Clayton Heights has ever had in volleyball,” he said. “It was just a really fun year.”
Many players are planning to come back next year, he added.