The Dover Bay Dolphins senior girls volleyball team believes they are ready to take a run at provincials this year.
After a fifth place finish on the Island last year, they return a veteran squad with a little bit of star power, and they have their sites set on grabbing one of the likely three provincial spots out of the region this year.
They will be led by Grade 11 middle Amanda Dobbyn, but she is surrounded by a strong cast of Grade 12s, including Kindred Dial, Alena Holyk, Sarah Cosgrove, Tarryn Robinson and Sydney Goodwin.
They open their tournament driven season this weekend as cohosts, along with John Barsby Community School and Woodlands Secondary School, of a 16-team tournament.
Head coach Dave Nelson began working on drilling home the immediacy and importance of this season to his young charges before the end of last year.
"You only have two-and-ahalf months of the high school season. It's really important for them to get out in the spring and get out and play and have some exposure to other coaches," he said.
"High school is quick. .. you can make some small improvements and work on strategy, but a lot of the skill will come from them working in the off-season playing better volleyball."
Their strength should be down the middle this year, with a lot of strength and size. The biggest issue they are working on right now is their ball control and skill.
The five-foot-11 Dobbyn will be key to their success this year. The 16-year-old was on the varsity team in Grade 10, and earned enough recognition to be invited to the provincial team camp in Kamloops this summer, where she became an alternate.
She says she learned a lot from being surrounded by the best players in B.C. for three weeks.
"It was a real cool experience because you got to meet all of the people and it was high level training," she said. "It was a challenge but you learn how to get along with a lot of different people. .. and you learn a bunch of new skills."
But it will not all be on Dobbyn. Nelson will be leaning heavily on the likes of Robinson, Holyk, Cosgrove and Dial.
"A couple of them, this is their third year, they played as Grade 10s for me, they know what to expect, they know the strengths and weaknesses of their game, they know who's strong on the Island," he said.
It all starts on Friday for the Dolphins as they open up their season. There is no regular season or league on the Island for the 4A team so they play all tournaments as they prepare for the North Island and Island championships. There is no host yet for the North Islands, but the Island championships will be hosted in Victoria.
The 16-team Dover Bay Invitational Tournament will include local entrants from Dover Bay, Barsby, Woodlands, Wellington Secondary School, Nanaimo District Secondary School, Cedar and Ballenas.
It will also give The Dolphins their first look at arch-rival Vanier Towhees from Courtenay. Instead of a traditional tournament with a playoff, they will play a round robin format, with each team playing six games against six different teams. The focus is all on early season development.
"With players, you always wonder, tryouts are always a little different, so once you step out on the courts step on the court, you want to know what you have," said Nelson. "It's an opportunity for all coaches to get everyone on the floor and see what they're working with."
The first game for the Dolphins is at noon on Friday against Frances Kelsey Secondary School. Meanwhile, Barsby gets Belmont and Woodlands plays NDSS to open at the other two schools. The tourney wraps up on Saturday with the final draw at 2:50 p.m.
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