“When the lights went out, I walked up to the tournament organizer and we both laughed a bit,” says McMath coach Daniel Wong. ‘Of course this would happen this year’

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It was the decisive fifth set of the BC Triple A men’s volleyball provincial semi-final on Friday night at Richmond’s McMath High School when the power went out, leaving hosts Wildcats and Elgin Park Orcas stranded in darkness.

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What about McMath’s trainer, Daniel Wong? He swears he wasn’t surprised.

Several provincial volleyball tournaments had been postponed for a week due to travel limitations linked to atmospheric rivers that had hit parts of the province. As a result, the Triple A boys’ tournament shifted on the fly, moving from Kelowna area schools to Richmond.

Provincials didn’t happen at all last year, with volleyball and all other high school sports limited to practice mode due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“When the lights went out, I walked up to the tournament organizer and we both laughed a bit,” Wong said of Jordan Abney, executive director of the governing body of BC School Sports. “Of course this would happen this year.”

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However, the officers and teams got down to business. First they made sure that the power outage was going to be prolonged. They later learned that nearby Steveston-London High School, where they held other tournament games, was unaffected.

They have a Steveston-London administrator to meet them at school to open things up, pack up the two teams, and then do the eight minute drive. After putting everything in place and warming up again, the teams played again about an hour after McMath was shut down for the first time.

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“I walked into the Steveston-London gym and there were players from both teams and administrators from the school working to set things up. It was great to see, ”said Elgin Park coach Matt Eckholm.

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Elgin Park had a 5-3 lead at the time of the blackout. By the rules, Wong could have forced a fresh start in the fifth set, but he refused, prompting Abney to say he displayed the “highest level of sportsmanship.”

Elgin Park ended up winning that set 15-13 to take the semi-final.

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“It’s the kind of day that I don’t think anyone who was there will ever forget,” Abney said.

Brandon Sekhon, a ninth-grade high school student who plays for McMath, added: “It was an interesting experience.”

The Kelowna Owls defeated Surrey-based Elgin Park in the final in four sets on Saturday, ending a season 48-1. They did so despite losing powerful hitter Sebastien Manuel to a broken little finger early in the tournament.

The Owls flew to Richmond, relying on parents and sponsors to help pay the bill.

“We will have to organize a bigger tournament next year to give something back,” Kelowna coach Mike Sodaro said.

It was kind of a breakthrough for Kelowna. Sodaro has run his program since 2010 and had guided the team to five second places in provincials before this weekend.

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It was one of several good stories that came out of the volleyball provinces. Another saw Riverside Rapids of Port Coquitlam capture the Quad A women’s volleyball crown at Nanaimo. The core of the team had won Grade 9 and then the Junior Provincials. They, like everyone else, were unable to compete for a title last year.

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Riverside rallied to beat the Nanaimo District Islanders in the semifinals and the South Delta Sun Devils in five-set marathons.

“We trained everything through COVID-19, when you had to wear a mask and you were staying socially distanced and this team stayed in the gym, working hard, from October to May,” said Riverside coach Bryan Gee. “They spend time, they make an effort.

“I love how hard the girls competed and how they played as a family.”

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Tournament winners

Single girls

Osoyoos

Double A Girls

Our lady

Triple A girls

Mount douglas

Quad A girls

Bank

Single guys

Abbotsford Christian

Boys Double A

Duchess Park

Triple A Boys

Kelowna

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