The 2013 Whalers senior girls volleyball team.

The 2013 Whalers senior girls volleyball team.

Whalers eye Cowichan tourney

PHSS girls prepare for tourney after making a strong start against local opposition.

PORT HARDY—After making a strong start to the season locally, the Port Hardy Secondary School girls’ volleyball team will hit the road to test themselves against down-Island competition.

PHSS teacher Levin Prong is in his first year of coaching but brings a wealth of playing experience to the role. “I played a lot of volleyball all through high school in Powell River,” he explained.

He and his squad of 12 players had a steep learning curve, playing their first game at home against Port McNeill’s NISS two weeks ago, just days after Prong took on the coaching role. The Hardy side narrowly lost out in that one, NISS taking two of the three games.

“The first game I’d literally been on the scene two or three days,” said Prong. “By the second game I knew our strengths and played our most competitive lineup.”

The Whalers got their revenge last week, sweeping the return series in Port McNeill.

They didn’t get it all their own way however.

PHSS comfortably took the first game 25-9, but NISS came alive in the second, taking it down to the wire before the Whalers emerged 28-26 winners. “NISS gave us a run for our money,” said Prong. “It was a real nail-biter.”

A lineup change for the third game restored the PHSS advantage and the ladies took a much more sedate 25-25 victory.

The PHSS side aren’t content to rest on their laurels however. Prong and the side have been hard at work, practising four lunchtimes a week in preparation for the Lake Cowichan ‘A’ tournament, Nov. 15-16, and the coach is quietly optimistic about his sides chances. “I think we can be competitive — as long as we keep practising hard,” he said.

Regardless of the outcome, the enthusiastic side — a mix of seniors and juniors — will relish the court time.  “I’m very much enjoying getting back into volleyball,” said the coach. “We’ll definitely continue (the volleyball program). I’m really proud of the teams we’re producing on the North Island.”

Prong also praised his assistant coach, Kim Kufaas, for her efforts. “She’s stepped up to the plate in a big way. She’s been there at every game, every practice.”