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Claremont Spartans again among favourites as high school boys volleyball begins

The echoes still rattle in the Claremont Secondary gym from all the spikes, blocks and digs over the years.

The echoes still rattle in the Claremont Secondary gym from all the spikes, blocks and digs over the years. From Olympians Greg Russell at Montreal 1976 to Canada captain Fred Winters at Rio 2016, the Spartans boys’ ­volleyball program has produced talent up to world class.

It hasn’t levelled off as ­Claremont, which placed third in B.C. in the last two high school seasons in 2018 and 2019 before the pandemic-cancelled 2020, is ranked No. 6 in the province this year.

“It’s a tradition that has been very consistent,” said head coach Shon Ryan, in his 33rd season coaching the Spartans.

“We’ve had good feeder schools with kids coming in knowing the history behind the program.”

The Spartans have won one provincial title but have been in the B.C. championship game on five occasions and in the Final Four 10 times.

“A lot of bridesmaids,” quipped Ryan.

But you need to be doing something right to be in the hunt so many times. The Spartans are back in the mix. Less starry than the 2018 and 2019 provincial Final Four squads, which produced three players who have gone onto varsity play in U Sports, these Spartans are still more than holding their own.

“We play as a team and bring energy to the court,” said Ryan, of his team, which is led by Grade 12 captain Carter Munro and Grade 10 standout Justin Peng.

The Kelowna Owls are ranked No. 1 in B.C. Triple-A in the ­top-20 poll with Claremont No. 6, Oak Bay Barbers No. 10, Belmont Bulldogs No. 13 and Vic High No. 17, the latter a ­welcome return to the top levels by the historic institution.

Two Island schools crack the Double-A boys’ volleyball poll with the PCS Pacers, who have knocked off several Triple-A teams, at No. 3 and the SMUS Blue Jags at No. 5. The Nanaimo Christian Trail Blazers are No. 5, St. Andrew’s Sabres No. 8 and Duncan Christian Chargers No. 9 in the Single A poll.

“There’s a great deal of parity this year,” said Ryan.

“All the top Island teams are really scrappy.”

It is part of the recovery from the dark 2020-21 high school sports season as boys’ and girls’ volleyball and boys’ soccer and football are well underway as part of the fall campaign.

“It’s back to business and ­full-speed ahead,” said ­Claremont athletic director ­Darren Reisig.

“There’s been a lot of pent-up demand and the student-athletes are thrilled to be back.”