Last spring, the Steveston-London Sharks senior girls basketball team took advantage of a small window of opportunity to secure the school's first ever provincial tournament berth. Now, the senior boys volleyball team is poised to do the same.
Success at the "AAA" level has been lean for all Richmond schools in recent memory, never mind the Sharks, but all signs point to a berth in the B.C. showcase event next month in Kelowna.
Steveston-London are currently ranked fourth in the province and have the potential to win it all according to coach and school athletic director Edmond Ma. His team began year ranked sixth and have inched up closer to the top thanks to a third place finish at the 49th annual UBC Tournament, then a runner-up result at Capilano University. This weekend they look to get further battle tested for the post-season at the Thompson River University Tournament in Kamloops.
"At Capilano, we lost to the No. 2 ranked team in the final but the match easily could have gone our way so we are right there (with the top schools)," said Ma.
The success of the girls basketball team fell on the shoulders of a couple of provincial team level players and this volleyball squad has similar ingredients. Grade 12 twins
Ethan (setter) and Gabriel (power hitter) Freund played on the provincial under 17 team last summer and attended nationals in Saskatchewan. A third senior - Mitchell Jesson - has also been part of the provincial team program. Throw in some other players who participate at the club level and the Sharks have the depth to be a major factor in the post-season.
The hope was to get the provincials a year ago as essentially a Grade 11 team, however, the Sharks' trip to the Okanagan was derailed by their cross-town rival Richmond Colts after a heartbreaking playoff loss. This time, they will be favoured to win the upcoming Lower Mainland Championships with honourable mention Burnaby North considered as their biggest threat.
"This is one of those opportunities that don't come along often," said Ma who has been coaching the team for the past five seasons. "You just don't get provincial team players in your school every year and all these kids take volleyball seriously."
Steveston-London's unbeaten run in Richmond league play includes a 3-1 win over Richmond Christian last week. The Eagles are currently ranked number two in B.C. among single-A schools.
The Sharks roster also features: seniors - Nicholas Chan, Tian Xing Li, Eric Mo, Zachery Pang, Lenny Tabakman and Marcus Yeung; Grade 11s Adrian Cheng, Max Kwan, Sam Lee, Jack Murakami and Isaac Sy.
© Copyright 2013