This one hurt.
There’s no dancing around how close these Charles Hays (CHSS) Rainmakers came to winning zones – three points to be exact – and it’ll sting for a little while.
The senior boys’ volleyball squad suffered a heartbreaking best of five, three-games-to-two loss to the Smithers Secondary Gryphons (SSS) in the senior boys’ AA zone championship held at Charles Hays on Saturday afternoon, and they went out after coming back from a two-games-to-none deficit.
The scoreboard went a little something like this for CHSS-SSS: 16-25, 17-25, 25-19, 25-23, 12-15.
A seemingly insurmountable comeback was placed in front of the Rainmakers, led by Grade 12 captain Kevin Rioux, after Smithers caught the ‘Makers napping in the first game and beat the home team.
After that, the team woke up and adjusted their game plan to the fast, hard-serving and accurate Gryphons side, who served notice this wouldn’t be an easy win or a zones to quickly forget for the Rainmakers.
‘Makers coach Stefan Delloch provided his troops with some words of wisdom after they fell in their second game. The team now faced elimination with one more loss, but it wouldn’t be on Delloch’s watch.
“We just said we were going to take it one point at a time and it didn’t matter what had happened, it mattered what was going to happen,” said Delloch after the game.
And it was in the third game that the Rainmakers started to assert themselves and turn the tide in front of a packed crowd, including some lively supporters from the women’s volleyball teams.
“Our passing was better in the last three games. We had a lot of attention to detail in the back row – digging up lots of balls. Everyone was on their toes all the time and our Grade 11s are big, tall guys. They can put the ball down. We just have to make sure we get nice passes and then we’re rolling,” said Delloch.
It was in that agonizing fifth set where the Gryphons finally caught the momentum of the rolling ‘Makers and took an initial 4-0 lead, silencing the crowd, when the home side at last ran out of fuel.
As the team fought back and made it a 5-8 game before they were almost on par with their opponents catching up 11-12, the Gryphons pulled away for good, shattering dreams of provincials for the Rupertites.
Grade 11 student Justin McChesney was awarded Player of the Game for Charles Hays while Matt Fowler took the honours for the Gryphons.
For such a young squad, Delloch said he was impressed with how they handled their adversity in what was perhaps the most intense game of volleyball played at the high school in the last few years.
“I’m so proud of these guys – especially to have so many Grade 11s in our starting lineup, the way they fought back … I would say most teams that have the amount of Grade 11s that we have would have folded in that scenario, but we ended up pushing all the way back to that fifth game,” said the coach.
Included in this year’s team is Rioux, McChesney, Aiden Bull, Paul Cavin, Kenny Cao, Tyler Duffy, Sean Harris, Alex Lindenthal, Cole Marogna, Jon Nelson and Cullen Riley.
If the Rainmakers achieved one thing from the match on Saturday it was that they served notice to the Northwest that they’ll be a tremendous force to be reckoned with next year.
“Five of our starters are coming back, so are both of our middles – one power, one offside and our centre … next year’s team will actually be quite a bit stronger, so these guys have a lot to look forward to and they should be really proud of the effort they put in,” said Delloch.
As for the graduating Rioux, the bench boss said he can go out with his head held high.
“You’re in Grade 12, you don’t want to go out on a losing note but the guy played his heart out. He left it all on the court and that’s all you can ask of him so we congratulate him on a good career as a Rainmaker,” said Delloch.
This weekend the senior girls will hit the court for their zones championship.