SUMMERSIDE – The defending P.E.I. School Athletic Association senior AAA volleyball champions have put themselves in a position to repeat.
The Kensington Torchettes and Three Oaks Axemen pulled out hard-fought semifinal wins on Wednesday night to secure berths in the gold-medal matches as part of the Grant Thornton-sponsored provincial championships at Charlottetown Rural High School on Saturday.
The Torchettes will take on the Colonel Gray Colonels in the girls’ final at 2 p.m., while the Axemen will battle the Bluefield Team One Bobcats for the boys’ title at 4 p.m.
The top-seeded Axemen, who posted a perfect regular-season record of 10-0 (won-lost), rallied for a 3-1 victory over longtime rival Westisle Wolverines (3-7). After Westisle won the first set 25-23 and led 21-16 in the second set, clutch serving by Jack Somers keyed the Axemen’s rally to a 25-22 win to even the match.
Three Oaks jumped out to an 8-1 lead in the third set, but this time the Wolverines refused to quit and battled their way back into the set, before the Axemen prevailed 28-26. Three Oaks then closed out the match winning the fourth set 25-11.
In the other boys’ semifinal at Bluefield, the second-place Bobcats (8-2) prevailed in five sets. Bluefield won 25-17, 25-22 to jump out to a 2-0 lead, but third-place Rural (6-4) answered back with set wins of 25-20, 25-23 to send the match to the limit. Bluefield took Set 5 by a 15-9 count.
In the quarter-finals played Monday, Westisle posted a 3-1 victory (25-16, 25-20, 16-25, 25-19) over Colonel Gray while Rural defeated Montague 3-1 (25-11, 25-10, 23-25, 25-19).
In the girls’ semifinals, the Torchettes and Raiders played a nail-biting five-set thriller at Charlottetown Rural.
Kensington posted solid 25-11, 25-17 victories in the first two sets, but the Raiders answered back to stave off elimination with 25-20, 25-23 wins in the third and fourth sets. The fifth and deciding set went right down to the wire as the Torchettes prevailed 15-13 for a 3-2 win.
At Colonel Gray High School, the host Colonels defeated the Bluefield Team One Bobcats 3-0 (25-17, 26-24, 25-18).
To illustrate just how close the senior AAA girls’ league is this year, the Colonels, Raiders and Torchettes finished in a three-way tie for first place with records of 10-2 (won-lost). Tiebreaking procedures resulted in the Colonels being awarded first place, the Raiders second and Torchettes third. Bluefield Team One and Three Oaks Team One tied for fourth at 5-7.
In Monday’s quarter-finals, host Bluefield edged Three Oaks 3-2 (25-18, 21-25, 21-25, 25-15, 15-4) while Kensington swept visiting Westisle Team One 3-0 (25-20, 25-14, 25-18).
Also Saturday at Charlottetown Rural, Bluefield Team One and Charlottetown Rural Team One will decide the girls’ bronze-medal match at 10 a.m., and the Wolverines and Charlottetown Rural will meet in the boys’ third-place match at noon.