The season has ended the way it began for the MEI Eagles: with the No. 1 provincial ranking.
For the first five weeks of the 2A senior boys’ season, the Abbotsford school found itself ranked tops. But in late October, the Eagles lost their perch, first to the Abbotsford Christian Knights and then for the month of November, to the Langley Christian Lightning.
On Saturday night, MEI used a 3-0 victory over the Lightning to capture the 2A Boys BC Secondary School Volleyball Provincial Championship title at Langley Events Centre.
The victory is the 11th all-time for MEI at the 2A level (most of any school) and their first since 2015.
Langley Christian has 10 medals (three gold, three silver and four bronze) in the past 13 seasons.
All three sets were competitive with MEI winning 27-25 in the opener, 25-19 in set two and then scoring the final two points to break a tie to prevail 25-23.
“The biggest thing was being steady with our serving and passing. Both teams were trying to establish that. And then hopefully from that, run an effective offence,” said MEI coach Rocky Olfert. “That was the biggest thing, trying to be steady and settle the nerves.”
At the Eastern Valley Championships earlier this month, Langley Christian beat the Eagles, to earn both the Zone title and the No. 1 ranking for the 16-team provincial championships.
“That loss really motivated our team, it didn’t bring us down,” said MEI’s Tyson Ardell, named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player. “I felt like after that, we saw a challenge in front of us, we were able to work on our skills and get ready for a rematch.”
The Eagles would prevail in their Power Pool (which featured the top four seeds at provincials: No. 1 Langley Christian, No. 3 Abbotsford Christian and No. 4 George Elliot) dropping just one set out three best-of-three matches on opening day.
From there, the team cruised through the round of 16 and quarterfinals with back-to-back 3-0 wins over Prince Charles and Surrey Christian.
The Eagles then knocked off Abbotsford Christian 3-1 in the semifinals before facing Langley Christian in the gold medal game.
“Embrace the moment, they have earned it. Try and take it all in but also not to make it more than what it is. The points are still the same so be nice and calm and not get too high or too low,” Olfert said of his pre-game message to his relatively young squad, which has just a pair of Grade 12 starters.
“He has had a phenomenal four days. They always say big players step up in big games and he really did that for us. His leadership really shone through. You could see it in his eyes, his determination, his
desire, he wanted the ball. It was really fun to watch,” the coach said.
“He is not naturally an outside hitter, but he really stepped up and it was fun to watch. When we needed something big to happen, he really stepped up.”
In the bronze medal game, Abbotsford Christian needed five sets but they knocked off George Elliot 3-2 in a rematch of last year’s championship final.
Pacific Academy’s Nathaniel Kang was selected the Most Outstanding Libero.
Roan McCarthy (George Elliot), Josh Aperloo (Abbotsford Christian), Zach Meinen (Abbotsford Christian), Hunter Arul-Pragasam (MEI), Nic Triemstra (Langley Christian) and Jonas Van Huizen (Langley Christian) were selected First Team All-Stars.
The Second Team All-Stars were Elijah Woldringh (College Heights), Juhan Park (Pacific Academy), Tommy Godoy (Pacific Christian), Comrie Engbers (Surrey Christian), Micah Bucknam (MEI) and Austin Duff (George Elliot).
And the Sir Charles Tupper Tigers won the Most Sportsmanlike Team Award.