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Cougars scrape past Talismen to reach city final

Killarney, Eric Hamber advance to boys volleyball city championship

A cougar might be feared for its stealth attack, but Killarney's fiercest asset Tuesday in the city's AAA volleyball semi-finals was its defensive resolve.

The Cougars lost the first set to the Van Tech Talismen, but scraped through four more to win 21-25, 25-23, 25-18, 20-25, 15-12.

"They played their best game of the season," said Killarney head coach Chanh Vuong. "Consistency was a big one for us. We've been struggling for most of the season but they're starting to peak at the right time."

Killarney (8-2) lost to the Talismen (8-2) in an October game characteristic of Vancouver's best boys volleyball: relentless, competitive and exceptionally skilled. The fifth game went to extra points until Van Tech pulled out the 20-18 win.

In Tuesday's semi-final, the Cougars rarely gave up on the ball with multiple players dropping to the hardwood in pursuit of a defensive dig.

Paulo Pequeno said his Van Tech team got off to a slow start and didn't gain enough momentum to pull out a win.

"It's a single loss and we march on from here," he said. He expects more from his top-flight players, including Grade 12 middle and power hitters Markiel Simpson and Mustafa Haq, who both seemed unable to unleash their full strength.

"I'd like to say our boys played a role in that," said Killarney's Vuong. "Part of our game plan was to eliminate [Haq] from the game. I'd like to say they contributed to that.

"Van Tech shows stellar defence, year after year after year after year," he added. "I'm trying to get my teams up to their level, actually. They had to play very well to beat a very, very good team."

Van Tech beat Magee (8-2) in four sets Wednesday to play Thursday against David Thompson (7-3) who lost a marathon match to Eric Hamber Tuesday.

Eric Hamber and Killarney met Thursday to determine the city champion. Results online at vancourier. com/sports.

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Twitter: @MHStewart