The Belmont senior girls volleyball team have put the Islands in their rearview mirror once again on their drive to capture a third consecutive provincial title.
The Bulldogs, the No. 1 ranked team in the province, defended their AAAA Island championship at a tournament in Nanaimo on Nov. 17 and 18 with a hotly contested best-of-five victory over Oak Bay. The scores were 25-19 for Belmont and 24-26 for Oak Bay before the Bulldogs closed it out with wins of 25-22 and 25-23, said Belmont coach Mike Toakley.
“Oak Bay gave us a really tough test,” he noted. “They played us really hard five times this year.” Belmont’s Taylee Pomponio and Gracie May were named to the Island all-star team, while Jocelyn Sherman earned tournament MVP honours.
Although Belmont has enjoyed recent success in the provincials, winning the Islands has been elusive, Toakley said, noting it’s something Belmont teams have only accomplished a couple of times since 2001. Oak Bay, Reynolds and Claremont also qualified for the provincials, which underscores the high calibre of teams from the Victoria area. The provincial tournament gets underway Nov. 29 to Dec. 1 in Penticton.
“Obviously, the girls are nervously excited about the prospect of winning another provincial banner, but this will be a tremendous season, no matter what happens in Penticton,” Toakley said, adding that he couldn’t help feeling a little sad that this marks his final season with a graduating group that “has been a dream to coach.”
He is heartened, however , by the fact that the core players for the last four seasons will continue playing the sport, Sherman has committed to Simon Fraser University, Pomponio will play for Camosun College and May is considering offers from several post-secondary schools.
In addition to the stellar play of Sherman, Pomponio and May during the past four seasons, Toakley pointed out that the team also received major contributions from Aspen Nemeth, Kylie Kennedy, Jordyn Waller and Elise Gagnon.
Toakley joked that the goal for the team in the final days of preparation is to stay injury free. “The running gag has been about how they’re all in bubble wrap now for the next week and a half.”