Winning 18 straight sets on the way to a second consecutive provincial senior 1A girls volleyball title would be enough to measure the dominance of the Kelowna Christian School Knights at the 2012 B.C. School Sports championship tournament.
What might be just as impressive is coach Rob Smith didn't call a timeout during the entire three-day tournament held at Selkirk College.
"There just wasn't any need to," said Smith after his team defeated across-the-road-rival Immaculata Mustangs 3-0 (25-10, 25-22, 25-21) in the championship match on Saturday in Nelson. "The girls were on a mission and they knew exactly what they had to do."
That was no more evident than in the first set of the championship match against the Mustangs, the No. 2-ranked team going into the 16-team event.
The Knights, who had won seven of eight matches against Immaculata this season, but had also lost in a recent meeting with the Mustangs in the city championships, took control of the deciding match with the 25-10 first-set win.
"That loss in the city championship was extra motivation for our girls," noted Smith, who also coached the Knights - along with his wife Irene - to the 2011 BCSS championship, also going undefeated in the same amount of sets. "They knew they couldn't take Immaculata lightly, and winning the way they did in that first set was a real statement for this team. They wanted to make sure they took control of the momentum right from the start."
Immaculata did come back to push KCS in the final two sets, but just didn't have the depth of the Knights, who had eight players returning from last year's championship team.
While they were powered by outstanding play from Grade 11 outside hitter Micaylee Pucilowski, the tournament's most valuable player, the Knights' roster also included first team all-stars Kelsi Taron (setter) and Sarah Roberts (libero), second-team selection Cheyenne Heidebrecht and honourable mention Jenna Ratzlaff (power).
"As much as opposing teams tried their best to find ways of breaking us, there were just so few holes on the floor," noted Smith, whose team won three matches in pool play on opening day and went on to win four more playoff contests.
"Even early on when we used our entire 15-player roster, it was tough for the other teams. I heard one coach say that he thought our bench alone could be medal contenders. I think I could have put together a highlight reel for every girl on the roster. They all contributed that much to the gold medal."
The 15 players on the roster represent nearly a quarter of the Grade 11 and 12 female population (63) at KCS.
"There's a real volleyball culture being developed here," explained Smith. "A lot of girls are playing club and beach volleyball. And, of course, our recent success has heightened the interest in the game."
With nine Grade 11 players eligible to return for the 2013 season, Smith believes the Knights should be legitimate contenders for a three-peat.
"Our base should be very solid again next year," added Smith.
Asked how this year's gold-medal victory compared to last year's, Smith was candid.
"Of course everyone was excited about repeating as provincial champions. It was a goal all along, and it was fantastic to be able to achieve it," he said.
"But most of the girls had been through the process before, so it was kind of a different feeling this time around. Maybe one of relief more than anything."
The Knights went into the provincial tournament ranked No. 1, as they had been for the entire season, except for the one week in which they lost the city championship match to Immaculata.
The Knights opened the season with a bronze medal at the University of B.C. high school tournament, which included 40 teams in the 4A to 1A division. They followed up that performance with a silver at the Trinity Western University high school tournament and also finished second at UBC Okanagan, again meeting higher-division teams in both events.
While they lost to the 4A Kelowna Owls at the KSS Best Of The West tournament in the quarter-finals, they went on to place second in the B.C. Christian School provincial tournament; claimed bronze at the Pacific Academy tournament in Surrey; and won gold at a tournament at Clarence Fulton in Vernon, defeating the Kalamalka Lakers, the 2012 2A provincial champions twice in the process.
EXTRA SETS: The Immaculata Mustangs won 15 straight sets before meeting the Knights in the final.
The Mustangs, coached by Brian Drosdovech, were led by Siobhan Fitzpatrick and Erin Jacobs, both of whom were named to the 1A provincial tournament's first all-star team, and by Caroline Livingston, a tournament honourable mention.