Merritt Secondary School (MSS) has won the bid to host the AA Sr. Girls Volleyball Provincial Championships. Beating out schools from Vancouver Island and Prince George, MSS will now be the venue for the tournament set to take place from the 1st to the 3rd of December.

“I think for me, it’s very exciting because we were up against bigger communities who have bigger facilities to produce this event,” said Gian Cavaliere, Vice-Principal and Director of Athletics at MSS.

“We’re grateful that BC high school sports has a lot of trust and faith in small communities that they can also produce the same amount of fun, atmosphere, and excitement.”

This is a historic achievement for the city as the last Provincial level high school tournament hosted here was for basketball which dates back to the 80’s.

“I believe it was an 8-team tournament,” said Cavaliere. “Besides that, we haven’t hosted a tournament of this magnitude ever.”
Cavaliere placed a bid last October to host the tournament in the hopes of fulfilling his vision for highschool sports.

“I’ve always wanted to make Merritt a destination for sports,” Cavaliere said.

“We’ve done a great job in running adult tournaments but I really want to produce a community where students want to come and play.”

The application to win the hosting bid is a very rigorous process according to Cavaliere.

“The process is very long.” Cavaliere explained.

“Usually there are schools who put in bids, they go through an interview process and they review your application. There’s also a vote that happens where they choose who they feel is the best school to host an event like this.”

Requirements to qualify for hosting the tournament include proof of facilities being able to handle a large capacity, a city’s history with hosting high school sporting events, and an ability to assemble a tournament committee and to appoint a chair.

The provincial championship is a fairly big event and will utilize three separate locations; MSS, Coquihalla Middle School, and NVIT.
Merritt should expect upwards of 300 people coming in for the tournament.

“I think this tournament will also help economically with hotels and restaurants,” Cavaliere stated.

“There will be many parents who are going to come and support their children playing in this tournament. For us, it gives our community a chance to show others coming to Merritt that we have a great community here.”

The tournament will consist of 16 teams spanning across the nine high school sporting zones in BC. The teams will then be divided into four pools and a round robin process will take place.

To qualify for the tournament, teams must become the champion of their respective zone, leaving seven slots for wildcard berths which will be filled based on the competitive levels of teams.

MSS belongs to the Okanagan-Thompson Zone where there are nine AA schools. Being the host, MSS is given an automatic berth.

“We’re going to be really leaning on girls like Kendra Marklund and Maya Zakall to lead the team,” Cavaliere said. “They will carry out what is expected of them in an event like this to be competitive.”

In terms of history, MSS is no stranger to hosting volleyball tournaments. Back in September, teams from the Okanagan and Fraser Valley were invited to a Sr. Girls 9-team tournament. The Jr. Girls then hosted an 8-team tournament the following month.

“I think it gives our youth some representation,” said Cavaliere. “It is hard sometimes for youth in small communities to really bring awareness to that community.”

In preparation for the tournament in December, Cavaliere looks to assemble a tournament committee and appoint a chair to handle accommodation, sponsorships, and catering for the tournament.

A liaison from BC high school sports will assist in the preparation for the event.