Prince George Volleyball Club Teams Head to National Championships

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As defending provincial champions, the Prince George Kodiaks fell short of their honors a month ago at the BC Men’s U-18 Club Volleyball Championships in Richmond, but it is now ancient history.

They have a shot at national glory starting Sunday at the Volleyball Canada National Championships in Edmonton, however, the Kodiaks’ path to the medal round of the 32-team Division 1 tournament won’t be easy.

The Kodiaks are seeded fourth in Pool A with Ubuntu (highest seeded team in Ontario), 204 U18 Gold (#3 Manitoba) and Bounce (#3 Ontario).

“I’m super happy, they’re a good team and I think we’re gradually improving and I think we’ve got what it takes to come out on top in our division,” Kodiaks right winger Jordan Fulljames said. , who played high school volleyball in College Heights, with Kodiaks teammate Eli Woldringh. “Our energy just needs to stay high and we have to do what we do best.”

The Kodiaks traveled to Kelowna a few weekends ago for a day of play against the 18U Heat and it gave everyone plenty of time on the court to prepare for what they face this weekend. in Edmonton.

The Kodiaks started the provincial championships well, winning all three preliminary games, but went 2-2 in the playoff round, losing a 2-0 quarter-final decision to the Seaside Six Pack of South Surrey/White Rock, who excluded from the medal race. The Kodiaks finished sixth.

“We have a lot of depth,” Kodiaks assistant coach Jason Olexyn said. “From time to time we make mistakes, like we did at the provincial championships in the quarter-finals. We went 4-2 but just lost the wrong game.

“We have a lot of hard workers, big hitters and great blocks, but that just hasn’t materialized at the provincials. Due to COVID they haven’t had provincials two years in a row and three years ago they won provincials (as a 15U team) so there were a lot of high expectations for us were going down to the provincials to live up to that and we came short.

It’s their last hurrah as a club team. With high school graduation about a month away, five of the Kodiaks were drafted to play on college or varsity teams.

“I’m quite nervous actually,” Fulljames said. “It’s a big world after that and I’m going to go play at Camosun College, so I’m still going, and a lot of our guys are too.

“I started volleyball in 8th grade and I’ve only run with it ever since. Club volleyball is after our school season and it just gives a chance to collectively have the best players in Prince George.

Kodiaks passer Chris Zimmerman, the provincial double-A championship MVP, has been drafted to play at Queens University in Toronto, while powerhouse hitters Tony Kibonge and Brandon Steel will deliver points and digs at the Grande Prairie Regional College next season. Woldringh, who played for Team BC with Zimmerman and Fulljames, brings his talents to the Pacific Western Athletic Association at Douglas College in North Vancouver.

Kibonge, a two-time volleyball and basketball star at Cedars Christian who helped the Eagles win provincial bronze in both sports this season, is looking forward to another championship run. Since the national volleyball club championships had been canceled the previous two seasons due to the pandemic, he never participated in a national event.

“I think it’s going to be a great experience because it’s all over Canada and it’s probably the biggest tournament I’ve ever been to,” said Kibonge, who plans to study kinesiology. “I’ve only been to the provincial championships and it will be fun to see that.

“I’m super excited and I think we could do very well. We have a really good offense, although we are quite small, our tallest guy (setter Zimmerman) is six-foot-three, we are still able to compete with the top teams because of our athleticism.

The 18U Kodiaks honed their skills in games against the 17U boys, who also placed sixth at the provincial championships.

“They have a pretty good squad and it’s good to have someone we can really play against,” Kibonge said. “Some teams don’t have that and when they go into games it’s a bit of a surprise because they’ve only been doing drills.”

Other players on the 18U men’s team are John Jeong, Colby Hoy, Raiden Aimetz, Duncan Fisher, Judah Keryluik, Jacob Hoskins and Ryan Danbrook. Dan Drezet is the head coach and Jacob Tiani is the other assistant coach.

The national tournament begins on Thursday for the 15U and 17U divisions, with five Prince George Volleyball Club teams entered, including the U17 and U15 men’s red teams and the 17U and 15U women’s red teams. These tournaments end on Saturday.

The 18U and 16U national tournaments will be played Sunday through Tuesday in Edmonton. Prince George has two 16U women’s teams listed, Red and Black, and one 16U men’s team, Kodiaks Red.

The U-18 Kodiaks Red girls weren’t at their best at the provincial tournament in Richmond, finishing seventh which propelled them into Division 2 at the Nationals. But they are thrilled to have the chance to face teams from across Canada for one last tournament together.

“(Finishing seventh in British Columbia) was not the result we were hoping for, every top 10 team was really good and we met the eventual provincial champions (Victoria Momentum) in our quarterfinal game and they were a bit too much for us,” said head coach Jasen Florell.

“We were the first team from BC not to be in Division 1, which was a bit of a disappointment because we were hoping to play against the best teams in the country. Alberta No. 7 is good enough to get into, but BC No. 7 isn’t, so we’re stuck where we are, but that’s okay.

“We are going to compete and have fun. This is our last time with this band, we’ve been together four or five years and it’s going to be fun and emotional.

Four team members will head to post-secondary teams next season, including power hitters Macyn Under (Simon Fraser University) and Shadae Black (Douglas College) and middle tackles Quinlan Shaw-Bowers and Harsh Dhaliwal (both from Grande Prairie Regional College). Shaw-Bowers injured his knee during the provincial tournament and will not play at the national championships.

The 18U girls roster also includes Carly Gurney, Hayden Bedard, Evelyn Risdale, Kaleena Samaai, Breanna Day, Payton Holyk, Madison Florell, Avery Parker and Brooklyn Van Camp. Mark Gurney is the assistant coach.

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