CHARLOTTETOWN - In a game that stretched more than 2 1/2 hours and saw no team lead by more than five points, it was B.C. that could finally breathe a sigh of relief Thursday.
B.C.'s men's volleyball team edged Quebec 3-2 (26-28, 26-24, 25-20, 23-25, 15-11) in a quarter-final game that was indicative of a tournament where there's no clear favourite. Saturday's gold-medal game should be a nail-biter.
"It was crazy, it was do or die, you win or you go home, and we were hoping to continue on," said B.C. co-captain Rudy Verhoeff of Langley, B.C. "That's our second match that has gone within two points each set all the way to the fifth set, so definitely the competition is very level between the top five programs."
B.C. faces Alberta in Friday's semifinals, while Ontario faces the winner of Thursday's other quarter-final between Saskatchewan and Manitoba.
Ontario went 5-0 through the preliminary round to earn a bye through the quarters, along with Alberta, which went 4-0 through the week.
"There are probably four or five teams that could win it, we knew that coming in, we counted ourselves among that group and I think it's a testament to the different programs across the county," said B.C. coach Chris MacIver.
B.C. and Alberta met in the preliminary round in a game that went five sets with a two-point victory for Alberta in the fifth.
The volleyball venue at the University of P.E.I. has quickly become one of the most popular spots through the Games, and Thursday's game of marathon rallies and wild dives showed why.
"That's the way the game is played, especially at these Games, the emotions are all highs and lows," MacIver said. "The crowd's been fantastic, so we're riding that wave up and down the whole time, you really sense the momentum shifts."
Marc Howatson of Victoria said he hopes his team can use the momentum from Thursday's win in its matchup against Alberta.
"It will be tough to put the emotions behind us from this, but we almost use it to our advantage," Howatson said. "The whole tournament for us has been about building and we built through each set and we felt the last set we had the upper hand, and we just tried to play it out, lots of emotion. We came out on top and we build through (Friday) as well."
Alberta's women's team is through to the semifinals after edging Saskatchewan 3-2 (25-20, 25-17, 28-30, 23-25, 15-9). Nova Scotia and Quebec were playing in the other quarter Thursday.
Manitoba and Ontario, both undefeated through the preliminary round, earned byes through to the semis.