The best result produced by a Richmond team at this year’ provincial high school volleyball championships didn’t even expect to be there two months earlier.
After being seeded 14th among 16 teams in the girls’ AAA tourney, the McMath Wildcats capped a terrific three days at the Langley Events Centre with a seventh place finish.
“At the beginning of the season we didn’t even think we would be here, never mind finishing in the top eight,” smiled head coach Kevin Shen. “Throughout the season I browsed the rankings and we were never there. Now we know we are in the top eight no matter what. That’s a sweet feeling.”
The Wildcats advanced to the LEC thanks to their second place at the inaugural South Fraser Valley Championships. They lost to the McRoberts Strikers for the third time this season but did manage to win a pair of games after being swept in the two previous matches, including the city final. It served notice of what was to come.
“You have to give full credit to the girls. They didn’t come in playing scared and timid,”continued Shen.
“It was their game to lose and a lot of pressure on them. Most of the girls are friends and teammates (in club) as well. It was really sweet to show they were there as competitors and rivals too."
At provincials, the Wildcats finished second in their pool group with a 2-1 record, highlighted by an upset of top 10 ranked and three-time defending champion Crofton House. It was then off to the round of 16 when they came through with a big 3-1 win over Prince George — another top 10 opponent.
The run ended with a 3-0 quarter-final loss on Friday night to eventual champion Little Flower Academy. The girls then fell 2-1 to Okanagan-Mission before closing out their season with a come-from-behind 2-1 win over Vernon.
“This is a special group to me, not only as players but as students too,” added Chen. “For them to come together the way they have and commit so much time to it. I couldn’t have asked for any more for them.”
The Wildcats will be a force next season with only two starters lost to graduation.
This year’s team includes: Grade 12s — Caitlin Bradley-Tse, Emma Lo, Madeline Gillis, Megan Man. Grade 11s — Macy Sweetman, Chloe Maher, Daryn Craig, Lydia Makhanko-Tang, Gabby Papillon. Grade 10s — Tara Johnson.
The Strikers capped their terrific season by placing 14th. They fell to WL Seaton 3-1 in the round of 16 after going 0-3 in pool play.