The Reynolds Roadrunners are in the midst of one of its best senior boys volleyball seasons but it’s going under the radar with the Island champion Oak Bay Barbers looking to win a third straight B.C. title. Add to that the Belmont Bulldogs’ tremendous year, in which they’ve challenged and beat the Barbers, and the Roadrunners are quietly the third best team on the Island.
Third is how they finished at the AAA Island Senior Boys Championships at Oak Bay on Saturday (Nov. 16). But it was nearly a trip to the Island final, as the Roadrunners fell just shy of a colossal upset in the semifinal. Having already beat the Claremont Spartans in the Saturday morning quarterfinal, and thereby clinched a spot at the AAA Senior Boys Volleyball Provincials in Nov. 27 to 30 in Kelowna, the Roadrunners were warmed up and confident going into the semifinal versus the Bulldogs. Reynolds took the first two sets 25-21 and 25-20, but dropped the next three 22-25, 23-25 and 12-15.
“We were paying really strong (against Belmont), maybe afterwards we were a bit surprised we did that well,” Reynolds player Alexis Duval said. “Before the game we probably didn’t the think we’d come that close, so that’s disappointing.”
Later that night the Roadrunners bounced back and defeated Dover Bay in four sets, including a hair-raising third set, 32-30, to finish third at the Islands.
Most important is the Roadrunners spot at provincials, Duval said.
Reynolds has shown flashes of brilliance this season, the biggest coming back in September when they won the University of B.C. Invitational, topping a field of 40 teams. The team is Led by Duval up front and a core of strong Grade 11s around the talented setter, David Lee.
“We were happy to win (against Claremont). It’s great to finally go to provincials. Last year we were close, fourth at Islands.”
It should be mentioned that Reynolds narrowly beat the Claremont Spartans in the best-of-three quarterfinal 27-25 and 25-23. Hey, a win is a win.
It’s the end of an eight-year school volleyball career for Duval, who started as a Grade 5 student on Victor Brodeur’s Grade 6 team before he switched to Cedar Hill middle school and eventually Reynolds. The 6-foot-3 power hitter was named to the AAA Island second all-star team. He’s is a net threat for Reynolds and has been part of the Roadrunner’s biggest season in the recent era, though he’s even more promising as a provincial level badminton player. In his badminton pursuits, Duval was eliminated in the second round of the under-19 provincials in April. It was an early exit and he may have advanced a lot further as the badminton ace who beat him went on to win the B.C. championship.
“Volleyball’s really fun right now so I don’t mind that it’s taking a lot of time from my badminton training. The lead up from all the practices we’ve had, (Islands) was time to play our best volleyball. If we can play our best volleyball at provincials we’ll be happy with that,” Duval said.
The Roadrunners starting lineup has three Grade 12s, and Duval predicts this team should be just as good, if not better, next year.
“We have some strong players, Lee and Matt Mitchener in Grade 11, and Hanson Christenson in Grade 10, who’ll make the other guys better.”