There would be no heartbreak in this year’s national championship game.
“Our guys were just so hungry, they did not want that feeling of losing again,” said Dan Johnson, the coach of the Force Volleyball Club’s U15 boys team.
“They worked so hard through the year and were really focused.”
And that hard work and focus paid off when the team took top spot at the U15 club volleyball national championships, which were held in Regina May 17 to 19. Thirty-two teams took part.
The final saw Force lose the first set to the Manitoba Winmen and then lose one of their starters to injury. But the team rallied to win the next two sets to prevail 2-1 (23-25,25-20,15-11).
Setter Zechariah Johnson was named tournament MVP while Trent King (right-side) and Philip Stahl (middle/left-side) were first team all-stars.
Last season, the team lost just once: in the national championship game.
“We told the boys remember how this feels,” Johnson explained.
“And we made the commitment to come back in 2014 as champions.”
To prepare for this season, Johnson and assistant coach Ryan Hofer entered their U15 squad in U16 tournaments, as well as a few U17/U18 events.
“We tried to push the boys so they wouldn’t be complacent,” Johnson said.
And the team responded by winning one of the U16 events and finishing third in another. They were also seventh in one of the U18 events.
At nationals, the Force got a measure of revenge, beating Alberta’s Canuck Stuff along the way.
That was the team which beat them in the 2013 championship game.
The team is made up of players from Langley, Surrey and Abbotsford, including six players from Langley Christian and Langley Fundamental, fierce rivals during the school year.
Force team members are: Zechariah Johnson, Trenton King, Max Heppell, Parker Heppell, Jordan Goh, Philip Stahl, Andrew Gamble, Elijah Spoelstra and Brodie Hofer. Coaches: Dan Johnson and Ryan Hofer