Strikers win South Fraser thriller for retiring coach

McRoberts outlasts McMath in five-sets to capture inaugural South Fraser title

In her 33rd and final season coaching at McRoberts Secondary, Trish Nicholson was not at all comfortable with her heavily favoured team attempting to defeat the McMath Wildcats for a third time this season.

“It’s just hard to play a team three times and that’s all I know. It makes me nervous and they’re athletic,” she said in a pre-game interview.

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“Who is showing up? Are we showing up? Are they showing up? Is it going to be a big match? It can be just tricky playing the same people again and it’s never fun.”

Sure enough, the retiring teacher’s words couldn’t have been more accurate.

After cruising to straight set victories over McMath in regular season play and the city final a week earlier, the Strikers escaped with a five-set thriller to win the inaugural South Fraser AAA Girls Volleyball Championship.

McRoberts took the first two games then the Wildcats finally broke through with their first victory in eight attempts and promptly followed it up with another one. They had all the momentum for the deciding set but fell into an early hole and didn’t have enough time to play catch-up, eventually falling 15-10.

It was Nicholson’s final time coaching on her home floor. She is taking a pass on the upcoming basketball season after seeing double duty for much of her career at the Williams Road school.

“I’m just tired,” she smiled. “All the extra little things I used to do during the season I just can’t do it anymore. Used to go from one sport right to another, as recent as last year, but not this time.”

Instead, Nicholson’s final coaching stage will be next week’s BC AAA Championships at the Langley Events Centre where the Strikers and Wildcats will be part of the 16-team tournament.

McRoberts has been a fixture in the top 10 provincial rankings all season but will need at least one mild upset to be in medal contention.

“We would like to finish better (after preliminary play) than where we are currently ranked (eighth),” added Nicholson. “You can beat anyone if everything lines up at the right time.”

Steveston-London defeated the Delta Pacers to complete a Richmond sweep of the podium. Strikers standout Jaya Sidhu was named tournament MVP and teammates Taryn Hill and Anais Lin were all-stars. McMath’s Emma Lo and Gabby Papillon were also all-star selections, along with the Sharks’ Kaitlyn Eng.

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