Sometimes a change of culture comes from within, as in what’s happened with Lambrick Park secondary grads Chris Koutogous and Cam Kung.
Koutogous has returned to his former school as a teacher and is coaching the senior girls volleyball team along with Kung.
“There is a culture of volleyball that is really big at Lambrick right now. The teams are successful and players are proud,” Koutogous said.
The Lambrick Park Lions senior girls volleyball team won the AA girls’ Island championship at Woodlands secondary in Nanaimo on the weekend, beating Highland in the final, 25-4, 25-16 and 25-12. The win puts the Lions into the AA provincials, Dec. 1 to 4 at Sa-Hali Secondary in Kamloops.
“It’s an incredible run,” Koutogous said. “The girls haven’t lost a set since Thanksgiving weekend (Oct. 9) in the finals of a tournament, going 28-0 in league play this year.”
Captain Tyger Holt leads the team, on which six of seven players will graduate. Lindsay Holt (no relation to Tyger), Claudia Wong and Kate Meldrum complement Chelsea Strandlund, who was named MVP of the Island championships. The squad also includes tournament all-stars Kirsten Cuckovich and Emilie Wong, the latter being the team’s lone grade 10 player.
“All have been all-stars and have worn the team’s hard hat, handed out every game as recognized by the coaches and players,” Koutogous said.
St. Margaret’s school finished seventh and St. Michaels University School placed ninth.
Winning the Islands was a relief for the Lions. Last year, the Lions had a string of second-place finishes, ending up as finalists in the AA Islands, AA provincials, and in the three tournaments this fall. Those losses, however, were all to AAAA schools Riverside, Handsworth and Kelowna, each ranking in the top four in B.C.
“The girls are extremely hard working with one of the best team dynamics I’ve ever seen. Everybody wants every one to do well, when players come off the bench they support each other.”
The future is also bright as the school’s junior girls team, coached by another pair of Lambrick grads, Jonny Lee and Spencer Morriss, won the city championships and were second at Islands in Nanaimo last week.
Lambrick is hoping to field a junior boys team next year. The senior boys were fourth at the AA Islands hosted by Pacific Christian School last week.
Spectrum hosted but did not partake in the AAAA girls Island championship, Nov. 18-19.
Northerly visitors G.P. Vanier (Courtenay) and Dover Bay (Nanaimo) took the top two spots with the Oak Bay Breakers defeating Carihi for third. Belmont, Mount Douglas and Claremont were sixth, seventh and eighth, respectively.
Vanier and Dover earned automatic qualifications for the AAAA provincials in North Vancouver, Dec. 1 to 3. The Breakers can still enter the provincials as they battle for one of two spots up for grabs at a six-team wildcard tournament in Surrey this weekend.