VOLLEYBALL: U14 Flyers geared for club provincials

Lansdowne middle school’s Grade 8 boys team has gone undefeated for the fourth straight school season.

When the schedule ended, the team kept going. The players are now playing as the Victoria Volleyball Association’s U14 Flyers, coached by Rick Wutzke.

During Easter weekend the Flyers hosted a mixed-age, round-robin Super Spike tournament against four Vancouver teams, one from Comox and five local clubs, with all of the teams being older.

“We didn’t win every game but we (won at least) one set per match so it went very well consdering we’re the youngest,” Wutzke said.

“Some of the teams can’t believe they’re losing to kids who haven’t had their 14th birthday yet.”

The tourney acted as a warmup for this weekend’s Volleyball B.C. club provincials. The Flyers will be in Langley, the host city for the U14 boys and girls provincials, April 30 and May 1. Going into provincials the Flyers are ranked first in B.C., having won three of four sanctioned U14 Super Spike tournaments this spring.

“We know who will be our main competition, particularly Fraser Valley (Abbotsford), who are a lot taller than us,” Wutzke added.

Following provincials, the Flyers are scheduled to attend the U14 nationals in Saskatoon, May 6-8.

This year is a big one for the VVA with more teams than any year in the past 10, Wutzke said. “We’re seeing growth in the boys and girls sides of the sport.”

Under Wutzke’s watch, Lansdowne has populated the Oak Bay High volleyball program. Before he got to Lansdowne, Wutzke was at Oaklands middle school where he coached Josh and Mark Howitson, the brothers who went on to Oak Bay High and Trinity Western University. Josh, 24, is the national team setter while Mark, 20, is on the national B team.

Wutzke believes the key to making volleyball popular is by introducing it in a non-competitive manner.

“Kids don’t play volleyball until middle school, but they’ve tried most sports before then. And volleyball can be complicated, so we make it fun, without any pressure, and kids get hooked on the sport. They love the game and they want to play.”