The Ladysmith Secondary School 49ers senior girls’ volleyball team

The Ladysmith Secondary School 49ers senior girls’ volleyball team

Ladysmith volleyball team being honoured by community

Ladysmith Secondary's senior girls' volleyball team is a finalist for Sports Story of the Year at the Nanaimo Sport Achievement Awards.

Their season may be over, but the Ladysmith Secondary School 49ers senior girls’ volleyball team has served up one more victory following its second-place win at provincials in late November.

The team is a finalist in the Nanaimo Sport Achievement Awards for Sports Story of the Year and will be honoured during the organization’s 10th annual awards gala Friday, Feb. 13.

“It’s pretty cool for the girls to not only finish second at provincials but also be seen from a community perspective as well,” said coach Stephen Epp. “Within the Nanaimo-Ladysmith region there’s been a lot of successes — to be recognized as one of the top stories of the year puts them on that scale.”

Also in the running for the 2014 Sports Story of the Year title is the B.C. Summer Games, held in Nanaimo from July 17-20, and the World’s Longest Street Hockey Game, achieved by Youth Sticking Together in mid-August.

The 49ers’ road to provincials began with a fourth-place finish at the Camosun Chargers Sr. Girls’ Volleyball Tournament in October. In addition to being the top Nanaimo-Ladysmith district team at the tournament, Ladysmith’s Kelsey Hutt was chosen as an All-Star.

By mid-November, the team had volleyed into third place in the province, and after winning both the North Island and Island titles, the 49ers advanced to the B.C. championships at Brentwood College seeded in fourth place.

Epp credited talent and teamwork as the keys to the team’s success.

“It was an interesting season because seven of them were Cedar students last year,” he said.

According to Epp, the 49ers had a lot of injuries during the season, but the biggest challenge for a lot of them was the transition from Cedar Community Secondary School after its closure.

“As Grade 12s, that can be pretty difficult,” he said. “But the school did a really good job of welcoming them in and rallying around their push for provincials.”

Becoming a finalist in the Nanaimo Sport Achievement Awards has given the girls a well-deserved pat on the back as they approach what will be the final weeks of high school for some members of the team.

“It’s a good opportunity to reflect back on the competition that they had,” said Epp.

Award finalists include:

Male Team Athlete of the Year — Victor Blasco, soccer; Cody Chartrand, baseball; Marshall Cook, football.

Female Team Athlete of the Year — Bronte Fitzsimmons, soccer; Leanna Gildersleeve, volleyball; Kesa Van Osch, curling.

Male Individual  Athlete of the Year — Matt Haddad, golf; Braxton Clark, judo; Hunter McGill, BMX.

Female Individual Athlete of the Year — Erin Burrett, cross-country running; Marian Stewart, bathtub racing; Carey Mark, cycling.

Male Junior Team Athlete of the Year — Zach Diewert, baseball; Johnnie Grais, lacrosse; Cole Virtanen, football.

Female Junior Team Athlete of the Year — Kelsey Hutt, volleyball; Shaelynn Ross, lacrosse; Kalia Van Osch, curling.

Male Junior Individual Athlete of the Year — Reid Della-Rosa, swimming; Peter Morch, swimming; Sebastian Sulyok, motocross.

Female Junior Individual Athlete of the Year — Shirin Anjarwalla, golf; Madison Heisterman, track; Faye Tuck, wrestling.

Masters Athlete of the Year — Derek Steel, cycling; James Scantland, swimming; Eilene Mitton and Zorka Smith, curling.

Partners of the Year — Sarah Kedves and Lucas Pallard, figure skating; Graydon Robb and Pat Thompson, badminton; Martin Barakso and Tim Schrijver, rowing.

Team of the Year — Mid-Isle Highlanders U21 men’s soccer; VIU Mariners women’s soccer; VIU Mariners women’s volleyball.

Junior Team of the Year — Dover Bay LazerHawks cross-country running; Barsby Bulldogs AA varsity football; Upper Island Storm U18 girls’ soccer.

High Performance Coach of the Year — Bill McWhinnie, basketball; Anup Kang, soccer; Robert Biernacki, jiu-jitsu.

Grassroots Coach of the Year — Bob Saunders, athletics; Rob Stevenson, football; Megan Conway, gymnastics.

Sport Administrator of the Year — Norm Thibault, cyclocross; Joyce Mark, canoe/kayak; Shawn Swanson, lacrosse.

Official of the Year — Terry Ryan, swimming; Jacob Burnley, soccer; Bill Mercer, BMX.

Sports Story of the Year — Ladysmith 49ers senior girls’ volleyball; B.C. Summer Games; World’s Longest Street Hockey Game.