It has taken a while for the 18-and-under boys’ Brandon Volleyball Club team to come together, but head coach Warren Birch feels the players are gelling at the right time.
For the majority of the early part of the club season, the team was juggling its roster with players missing tournaments because of hockey or high school basketball commitments. At the tournament the club hosted earlier this year, BVC was without five of its starters as they were competing at high school basketball provincials.
The team has finally had time to come together and Birch feels it’s the perfect time with the 18U provincial championship starting today at the Healthy Living Centre.
"We started out pretty slow. We had a lot of guys committed to hockey and basketball, so we really didn’t have a whole lot of time to come together other than the last couple weeks," he said. "The last couple weeks we’ve had some really good practices. We’ve come a long way as a time for sure. I don’t think we’re a sixth seed anymore, but time will tell."
BVC goes into the six-team tournament as the fifth seed. The teams will play a full round robin on Saturday and Sunday with the playoffs set for Sunday afternoon. The final will be played on Sunday at 2 p.m.
BVC has played all but one of the opponents it will face this weekend, and Birch said the top two-ranked teams — the Winman Legends and 204 — are the class of the field. That doesn’t mean he doesn’t have high goals set for his players.
"The two that are at the top, the Winman and 204, are definitely the top in the 18-and-under, but we’ve competed with both of them and there’s no reason we couldn’t be third coming out of the round robin," he said.
"It all comes down to our passing and our defence. That’s what we’ve been working on a lot in practice. We have a couple left sides that can put the ball away. We have a couple solid middles and a big right side. If we can spread the ball out, we’ll be fine. It just comes down to how well we pass and defend."
Birch expects setter Quinton Hunter will set up his outside hitters, Cole Toder and Junjun Taborlupa, often during the weekend, but Brandon Lalonde has a solid attack as well.
Birch feels his players are ready for provincials and can’t wait to see what his improved team looks like on the court.
"I think the guys are really pumped about it," he said. "I think our best practice was on Tuesday. I think they kind of see how good we’ve gotten and where we’re at for the weekend. I think everybody’s pretty excited."
The 17U boys’ provincial championship will run conjointly with the 18U at the Healthy Living Centre. The 17U BVC team is also ranked fifth heading into the event.
Meanwhile, the BVC Golden Bears go into the 14U boys’ provincial championship in Winnipeg as the top seed. The Brandon-based Storm are the second seeds at the 18U girls’ provincial championship in Winkler and fourth at the 17U girls’ event in Portage la Prairie. The Westman Volleyball Club is the top-ranked Westman team at the 14U girls’ event in Winnipeg as the 11th seed.