Summerland Rockets fight to the final set

The Pen High Lakers may have won the junior boys South Zone championship, but the SMS Rockets weren’t giving it up without a fight.

Summerland Rocket Rylie Hanley gets under a ball during their final match for zone champion with the Penticton Lakers.

The Pen High Lakers may have won the junior boys South Zone championship, but the SMS Rockets weren’t giving it up without a fight.

Rockets coach Kevin Lodermeier said the team made some great plays, good plays and some common errors for junior volleyball.

“I think it was two teams that are pretty evenly matched,” said Lodermeier, who was confident the matchup would go three sets. “It came down to who made a few less errors in critical spots.”

Lodermeier said when his team is relaxed while playing, they perform and make fewer errors. He talked about when games get tight and how players react.

“Do you face adversity and take the challenge or do you crumble?” he said. “The reality is these guys faced the challenge. They stepped up and did what they had to do.”

A three-set victory (21-25, 25-10 and 15-12) over the Rockets earned the Lakers the championship, with Cam Glibbery delivering the final blow with hard serving Tuesday at Summerland Middle School.

Lakers coach Scott Finlayson said it was a good match between two teams that have battled all season. After being on the wrong end of games earlier in the season, the Lakers have found themselves on the winning side most times.

“These guys know how to play well. They just need to be reminded that they can,” said Finlayson. “When they lose sets they sort of get it in their heads that they are maybe not going to win anymore and I have to remind them that they are a good team. Other teams are going to beat them now and then. They just have to bounce back and try and win when they are not feeling great.”

Both teams will now play in the Valley Championship next weekend, Nov. 18 to 19.

The boys’ experience was duplicated on the girls side, with the Lakers junior girls sweeping the Rockets 25-21 and 25-23 to claim the South Zone  championship.

Lakers coach Scott Harkness said Summerland has a strong team that will remain that way next year.

“They played very good defence. Their libero played exceptionally well. They also have some strong offence,” said Harkness. “Luckily for us our girls played well. They came back from being down late in the first set and thanks to strong serving by Kayley Davies and some clutch hitting by Jayden Schneider, they were able to win.”

Harkness said the second set was better as they led most of the time thanks to excellent setting by captain Kali Loewen and strong hitting by Brooke Boerner. “Summerland never gave up in that set and we barely pulled it off thanks to some aggressive swings by Jayden.”