In areas of law and science, evidence plays a crucial role. It also applies to the makings of a Top-10 poll.
The Heritage Woods Kodiaks have been compiling their own evidence during the senior girls AAAA volleyball season, with each cluster of wins adding up to their No. 1-ranking in B.C.
Heritage Woods added more fuel to the fire on the weekend, when they captured the Handsworth Royals Invitational Tournament.
"It was a good tournament, our girls played really well," remarked Heritage Woods coach Alex Seres. "We did what we needed to do and our key players all stepped up."
It was no easy route to the championship for the Port Moody crew.
After sweeping through pool play, they crossed paths with the No. 1 team in AAA, Seaquam, and swept them aside. In the semifinal, they blanked cross-district rival Riverside 2-0 (25-15, 25-13) to advance to the title match.
It wasn't just beating the No. 4-rated Earl Marriott Mariners 2-1 in the final, but how they did it that brought a smile to Seres' face.
After taking the first game 25-14, Heritage Woods were met with a fierce bounce-back from the Mariners, who tied it up with a 22-25 decision. Given that resistance, the Kodiaks responded as hoped and rolled to a 15-9 triumph to claim their third big tourney title of the year.
Leading the way were Alessandra Gentile, Samantha Thompson and tournament MVP Emma Jennings, veterans who continue to set the tone for this season's heady expectations.
"This is what I was expecting from the players. Everyone knows Alessandra is one of the top players in the province, that Emma and Sammy are very strong players," noted Seres. "What we're seeing is that this team is a nice bunch of girls who really play well together."
A perfect 7-0 in Fraser Valley North league action, the Kodiaks' lone setback came in the inaugural tourney last month at UBC.
That's where No. 2-ranked South Delta gave them a handful in a 2-0 loss to start the tournament. The wound healed quickly, as Heritage Woods rallied to march past all challengers the rest of the series, gaining revenge over South Delta in the final.
Last year's fourth-place finisher at the B.C.s, the Kodiaks lost only one player to graduation and entered the 2012 volleyball season intending to be a force to reckon with.
So far, they've been reckoning at a furious pace. "I think they've grown tremendously since [last year]," said Seres. "Our percentage of kills is very high, and our error percentage is so low. They don't make too many mistakes, and when our opponents make a mistake we are finishing it.
"We know what to do when it gets tight. We don't want to come in overconfident and underestimate any team, and so far our team has the right approach."
Their next test comes in two weeks at the Riverside-hosted Red Serge Invitational in Port Coquitlam.
The Rapids, meanwhile, finished third overall at the Handsworth tourney, with wins over No. 5 Handsworth and AAA-top ranked Seaquam.