Royal bloodline benefits Handsworth
GIRLS VOLLEYBALL: Youngest sister Kayla continues an all-star tradition at setter for provincial contenders
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.
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.