Saints Varsity battle hard, but lose gold to St. Michael’s in close ISAA volleyball finals.


The team celebrates a point in their round robin match against Brockton.


VANCOUVER – The top 5 senior volleyball teams from independent schools from across B.C travelled to St. George’s School to compete for the gold in the annual ISAA Senior Volleyball tournament.  Unfortunately, after a well played round robin series, the three-time defending champions St. George’s fell just short in a heartbreaking gold medal match to St. Michael’s University School, losing 28-26, 26-24.

Saints had a very strong team coming into the tournament, led by team captain and team B.C member Rhys Matheson.  Their balance of fantastic macro play as well as individual talent was  displayed clearly in this tournament.  A lot of consistent spiking, setting, and strong recovery was seen throughout the round robin play.

Throughout the round robin section of the tournament, Saints went 3-1.   However, their only loss came against their main competitors SMUS, who had a very consistent team, as well as several very tall players.  Although the score remained extremely close early on, SMUS got a lead and kept extending it, eventually smashing Saints in their first match, losing both sets 25-11 and 25-15.

This defeat didn’t stop Saints at all, now that they knew what SMUS was capable of, they played even harder, winning their next 3 matches, the first 2 being blowouts in both sets against St. John’s and Mulgrave.  The now 2-1 Saints played Brockton, who was also 2-1, to decide who was going into the Gold medal match to play against the 4-0 SMUS team.

Saints started off strong in the first set, with several strong team plays giving Saints a slight edge early on.  Brockton kept up the pressure with strong defense, and the score remained very close.  Something they could not keep up to however, was the several powerful aces by team captain Matheson, and it ultimately lead to Saints closing out the game in a tight 25-21 first set.  With this momentum, Saints won the second set in a much cleaner fashion.

Nicholas Lam sets it up for Matthew Kieffer in their final’s match against SMUS.

With Saints taking second place in round robin and securing their spot in the gold medal game, it all came down to the final match against SMUS.  Saints now knew what to expect out of them, so the score remained much closer than the first match they played, with the score going back and forth constantly.  Amazing sets from Nicholas Lam and strong smashes from Matheson as well as Andy Hu edged Saints over to game point.  However, Saints could not get it done, as SMUS had some excellent saves and their dominance at the net ultimately lead to a 28-26 loss for Saints.

The second set Saints had to win in order to stay in contention for the gold medal. Once again, the game started off very close, but the strength of the SMUS team simply could not be beat.  Their blocks and domination at the net stole the show, and although Saints had strong smashes, SMUS was able to respond quickly.  A late game burst of energy had Saints playing extremely well and getting another game point, but SMUS sustained it out and won again in overtime and took the gold medal, 26-24.


Saints preparing to receive the ball during the gold medal match against SMUS.

Saints head coach Sean Sanderson was disappointed with their loss in the tournament, and knew they were tournament favourites coming into it.  “We expected to win, We’ve won this tournament 3 years in a row and we were coming in strong as well as defending champions.”

He did know what to expect after losing the first match to SMUS, and that they were probably going to meet them again in the finals.  “St Michael’s was a strong team from the get-go and they displayed it early on.” said Sanderson.  “We knew what they were capable of and we knew it would be close.  They had strong offense and great blocking and we had them at game point in both sets but couldn’t get it done.”

With this loss, Saints 3-year winning streak in ISAAs snaps, and St. Michael’s now qualify for provincials as the #1 independent school in the province. Saints must now go through the Lower Mainland’s to qualify for provincials.