NORTH SAANICH — The Parkland Panthers senior boys volleyball team is off to the provincial championships in Langley.
The team is off to the big tournament Nov. 25 to 29 after earning a bronze medal at the Island AA boys volleyball playoffs in Courtenay’s Mark Isfeld Secondary School over the Nov. 14 and 15 weekend.
In round robin on Friday, the Panthers finished second in their pool, beating Esquimalt and Ballenas (Parksville) but lost a close match to host Isfeld.
In the quarter-finals, Parkland played Salt Spring Island and won 25-10, 25-15. In the semi-finals, they had to play North Island No. 1 and B.C. third-ranked Woodlands (Nanaimo). Woodlands was too powerful and the loss set the Panthers up for the bronze medal match.
A win would give the local boys the final berth to the provincials. They would face Mark Isfeld again, who were upset in a three-set tie breaker to Ballenas in the other semi-final.
In the first game of the best of five bronze medal match, both sides battled with the lead being exchanged throughout the game.
Parkland had a slight lead at 22-21 but Isfeld won the crucial points to take the opening game. In game two, the Panthers rallied. A combination of strong play from Isfeld and some serve receive errors from the Parkland team allowed Isfeld to steal the win. Being down two games, the Panthers had to dig down deep to rally a comeback.
Ethan Bond started with some red hot serving, together with some excellent team defense to storm to an early 9-1 lead. The Panthers rode the momentum to capture game three, 25-18.
Middle blocker, Colin Bishop, really started connecting with the ball and was pounding powerful spikes. Power hitter, Michael Ram also dialed in his spiking to lead them to a 25-20 game four victory.
Game 5 was a 15 point tie- breaker. The Panthers were pumped and excited and started the fifth game on fire. Captain and setter Stephen Erhlich (who was named to the first all-star team) served the first rotation and hit some beautiful jump serves down the line which put the Isfeld attack off balance.
The Parkland defense was outstanding and the team dug the Isfeld attacks. At the half time switch, Parkland led, 8-2. Isfeld made a push back to close the gap but the Panthers pushed back as well with some great blocks, spectacular defense and excellent spiking to carry them to 15-9 victory and the bronze medal
The Panthers captured the final berth to the provincial championships in Langley Nov. 25 to 29.
— Submitted by coach Lorne Chan