Royal blood­line ben­e­fits Handsworth

GIRLS VOLLEYBALL: Youngest sis­ter Kayla con­tin­ues an all-star tra­di­tion at set­ter for pro­vin­cial con­tenders

The Province - - SPORTS - STEVE EWEN sewen@post­media.com twit­ter.com/SteveEwen

With Kayla Ox­land wind­ing down her high school volleyball ca­reer with the Handsworth Roy­als, we’d gladly like to bor­row a quote from a cou­ple of years ago from then-team coach Alan Ahac.

“She’s liv­ing up to the fam­ily’s rep­u­ta­tion. That’s for sure. My only re­gret is that the Ox­lands have no more chil­dren,” Ahac said.

Ahac was speak­ing to the North Shore News af­ter Handsworth won the 2015 quad-A girls pro­vin­cial ti­tle at Van­cou­ver Is­land Uni­ver­sity in Nanaimo. Ox­land, then in Grade 10, was named to the tour­na­ment’s first all-star team.

She’s the fourth sis­ter to play high school volleyball, fol­low­ing Sarah, 29, Re­becca, 26, and Emily, 23. Re­becca and Emily both made the all-star squad at se­nior provin­cials af­ter help­ing North Van­cou­ver’s Handsworth cap­ture a B.C. ti­tle, high­lighted by Emily tak­ing most valu­able player hon­ours in back-to­back years. Emily was also a mem­ber of the Prov­ince’s Head of the Class in 2012.

The sis­ters have helped Handsworth to four pro­vin­cial ti­tles com­bined.

A set­ter like her sib­lings, Kayla will be­come the third sis­ter to play at the U Sports level when she joins the reign­ing na­tional cham­pion UBC Thun­der­birds next fall. Emily fin­ished her fifth and fi­nal sea­son with the UBC Okana­gan Heat last spring, while Re­becca lined up for the West­ern Mus­tangs.

Their dad Tom played his five uni­ver­sity volleyball sea­sons for the Water­loo War­riors. He has coached club and high school teams for years, in­clud­ing guid­ing this year’s Handsworth side.

Kayla, Emily, Re­becca and Tom in par­tic­u­lar would square off in var­i­ous com­bi­na­tions in a lit­tle back­yard volleyball when the kids were younger.

That’s how Kayla first picked up the sport. Tom has said he has video of a five-year-old Kayla try­ing to keep up in those matches. Kayla tags her sib­lings as “role mod­els,” but ad­mits things could get feisty back then, too.

“I learned how to be com­pet­i­tive,” said Kayla, 17. “I never wanted to lose to them, but I al­ways did.” And now? “I would crush them,” she pro­claimed.

It’s hard to guess what per­cent­age was jok­ing and what per­cent­age was se­ri­ous.

UBC coach Doug Reimer says the 5-foot-9 Kayla fea­tures equal parts ath­leti­cism and tech­ni­cal skill and also has a “re­ally strong com­pet­i­tive fire and very good lead­er­ship skills.

“Is it mostly ge­netic or mostly from the up­bring­ing? That’s a very in­ter­est­ing ques­tion with some­one like her,” said Reimer, whose team starts this sea­son’s Canada West con­fer­ence play against UBC Okana­gan Oct. 20 in Kelowna. “I do know that her dad and the other coaches in the area do a very good job.”

Handsworth won the Ogo­pogo Clas­sic tour­na­ment hosted by UBC Okana­gan over the week­end and re­mains the No. 2-ranked team in quad-A be­hind Vic­to­ria’s Bel­mont Bull­dogs, the team that beat the Roy­als in last year’s pro­vin­cial fi­nal and re­turns its en­tire lineup from a sea­son ago. (You can find the full rank­ings at Howard Tsumura’s Var­sity Let­ters page at var­sitylet­ters.ca.)

Bel­mont beat Handsworth in the fi­nal of the UBC Mizuno Tour­na­ment in Septem­ber. It would be sur­pris­ing to not see the teams meet up again at some point dur­ing provin­cials.

“I think we have a fairly re­silient group,” said Kayla.

PHO­TOS: FRAN­CIS GEOR­GIAN/PNG

Handsworth Sec­ondary School’s Kayla Ox­land is the fourth sis­ter to play volleyball in high school fol­low­ing Sarah, Re­becca and Emily. The Ox­land sis­ters have com­bined to win four pro­vin­cial cham­pi­onships with North Van­cou­ver’s Roy­als.

Tom Ox­land is coach­ing his daugh­ter Kayla at Handsworth this sea­son. The Roy­als won the Ogo­pogo Clas­sic tour­na­ment last week­end and re­main the No. 2-ranked team in quad-A in B.C.

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