The Island AAAA girls volleyball tournament went about as well as the Cowichan Secondary Thunderbirds expected, although the team had higher hopes.
Facing some of the top teams in the province, the T-Birds began the tournament at a disadvantage.
“For every other sport for girls, Cowichan Secondary School is in AAA, except for volleyball which puts us, because of the numbers, in AAAA,” coach Cat Parlee explained. “Which means that we are facing some of the top volleyball teams in B.C. at the scholastic level. Most of the teams’ smallest players are at about 5-foot-9 or 5-foot-10, and that’s like my tallest player.”
This season was a rebuilding year for the T-Birds, and Parlee was happy with the way things went. Most of last year’s team graduated, leaving only three returnees. The new additions were new to volleyball at the senior level, including four players who moved up from junior, two international students, and four who had only played in P.E. class.
“They did amazingly well,” Parlee said. “And although we will have to rebuild somewhat again next year, it won’t be as bad.”
The T-Birds found themselves in a tough pool at Islands. They lost 25-9, 25-9 to Oak Bay and 25-11, 25-9 to Mount Doug. Facing Spectrum, who Parlee felt her team could have beat, Cowichan ended up falling 25-9, 25-21 to end up fourth in pool play on Friday.
The team’s youngest players, Grade 9 power Kaylee Trent and Grade 10 middle Jazmine Charles, were “indispensable” in pool play, Parlee said.
“Kaylee was all over the court covering her fellow teammates trying to make sure that nothing hit the floor,” the coach said. “And Jazmine was doing her best to block hits coming from girls who were almost a foot taller than her.”
The following day, Cowichan played Claremont in the crossover, losing 25-9, 25-23. In the seventh-place game against Reynolds, the T-Birds lost a close match 25-20, 25-23.
“We played wonderfully, and played how the team is capable of playing,” Parlee said.
Team captain Lindsay Elzinga kept the team alive in her final game with several huge spikes, and ended up on the tournament all-star team with Charles and Trent. Also graduating this year are Taylor Brouwer, Mikaila Cardin, Makenzie English and Veronica Cravenna.