In sports, highly ranked teams are usually rich in experience, having been through the battles and risen to the top.
But that’s not the case with the No. 3 ranked Claremont Spartans who currently have only three Grade 12 players on their roster and in most cases feature a starting lineup that includes four or five Grade 11s.
And while the Spartans may look young on paper, they do have two outstanding Grade 12 players in Gerry Peng and Reed Smith setting tone for the Spartans.
Spartan’s head coach, Shon Ryan, a 30-year veteran of Claremont’s volleyball program described Peng as a very serious focused player with great body control when he’s in the air.
“He’s a right-side player who can hit out of the back row really well and some of the sets he hits, I don’t even know how he does it,” said Ryan.
And after an up-and-down year in 2017, Ryan is happy to see the Spartan’s team captain, Reed Smith relishing the opportunity to lead the Spartans.
“Reed was a stud for us in Grade 10 and last year he struggled a bit, but this year he has really found his game,” said Ryan. “This year he’s been really consistent for us and he’s really enjoy the opportunity to be a leader on and off the court for this team. He’s like having a junior coach on the floor with the team.”
So far this season, Claremont has won two tournaments (Camosun and VIU) and only dropped two games. One to No. 2 ranked Van Tech and one to Royal Bay.
Three other key members contributing to the Spartans success are setter, Crash Wergeland (maybe the best name in high school volleyball), six-foot-eight, Ethan Boag and arguably the most talented player on the team, Kaden Brajcich.
“Crash is a young, creative, super athletic setter that makes a lot of the hard plays look easy, which gives us a very unique and diverse attack.”
And with Claremont’s rich history of producing players such as Fred Winters, Colin Lundeen, Matt Carere and brothers Dan and Sean Casey to name a few, Ryan paid a pretty high compliment to Brajcich.
He’s super focused and has a similar long first step to Fred Winters,” said Ryan. “I think with his size, athletic ability and drive he could be a special player down the road.”
Ryan hopes to see the Spartans on the podium at this year’s AAA Boys Provincials, but noted it’s going to be a tough task to knock off Earl Marriott.
“Earl Marriott is super strong and polished this year,” said Ryan. “They remind me a little bit of the team we won with when Fred Winters was in Grade 11, where they’re deep at every position and are going to be really tough to beat.”
Around the province, the biggest noise was made in the Okanagan, where the Kelowna Owls jumped from No. 7 to No. 4 and the Okanagan Mission Huskies jumped from No. 11 to No. 5.
In Boys AA, the top three remained the same with the Abbotsford Christian Knights remaining No. 1, followed closely behind by the Langley Christian Lightning and the College Heights Cougars.
The rankings may get a bit of a shake up this weekend as Kelowna plays host to several high-ranked schools at Best of the West.
Below are the AAA & AA Boys Volleyball rankings, as of Oct. 9, 2018.
AAA Boys Volleyball Rankings
- Earl Marriott Mariners (Surrey) (LW-1)
- Van Tech Talismen (2)
- Claremont Spartans (Victoria) (3)
- Kelowna Owls (7)
- Okanagan Mission Huskies (Kelowna) (11)
- Penticton Lakers (4)
- Boucherie Bears (Kelowna) (5)
- Oak Bay Bays (Victoria) (8)
- Argyle Pipers (North Vancouver) (9)
- Moscrop Panthers (Burnaby) (6)
- Delta Pacers (Ladner) (10)
- Dover Bay Dolphins (Nanaimo) (14)
- Burnaby Central Wildcats (12)
- Steveston-London Sharks (Richmond) (13)
- Elgin Park Oracas (Surrey) (NR)
AA Boys Volleyball Rankings
- Abbotsford Christian Knights (LW-1)
- Langley Christian Lightning (2)
- College Heights Cougars (Prince George) (3)
- George Elliot Coyotes (Lake Country) (4)
- MEI Eagles (Abbotsford) (5)
- Surrey Christian Falcons (7)
- Princess Margaret Mustangs (Penticton) (6)
- P. Todd Trojans (Prince George) (8)
- Langley Fundamental Titans (9)
- Richmond Christian Lions (10)