Busy Green Gaels advance to D10 volleyball semifinals

Rob Massey, Guelph Sports Journal

GUELPH – The Guelph CVI Green Gaels didn’t look any worse off for the amount of volleyball they played late last week.

The Gaels played three matches in the D10 season-closing senior gathering at Ross last Thursday and then followed that with six matches in their own tournament Friday.

“That’s a lot of volleyball,” GCVI coach Leann Reynolds said. “I think the good thing out of our tournament was that they saw how well they could play. We upset Jacob Hespeler in the quarters and that’s the best volleyball I’ve seen them play all year. If they can remember that and that they can play at a high level, that should help us going into the semis because we’ve never played at that level before or a team that good.”

The Gaels, third-place finishers in the D10 senior league, defeated the sixth-place Lourdes Crusaders 25-11, 25-19, 25-15 in a league quarter-final match Monday at GCVI.

“When we play to our potential, we can beat any team in the district,” GCVI captain Cassidy Andrews said.

The quarter-finals might be the scariest playoff match for all the home teams in D10 sports.

The hosts are the teams that finish in the top four while the visitors are the teams from the bottom four. The top four should prevail, in some cases easily.

“The other team has nothing to lose so that’s a nice position to be in, for sure,” Reynolds said. “It’s nice to get that over with.”

“There’s a lot of pressure on the (home) team,” Andrews said. “You’re supposed to win.”

The senior hosts were breathing easier as all swept their opponents in the D10 girls’ volleyball games in both senior and junior playoffs that were played Monday.

In senior, the second-place St. James Lions didn’t have to step on the court as they were given a 3-0 victory over the seventh-place Bishop Macdonell Celtics when the Celtics forfeited the match and the first-place Ross Royals defeated the eighth-place Centre Wellington Falcons 25-15, 25-12, 25-15.

A match between the fifth-place Orangeville Bears and fourth-place Centennial Spartans was postponed to Tuesday when school buses didn’t run in Orangeville Monday. The game is to be played at 2 p.m. as Centennial is hosting D10 basketball playoff games at 4 p.m. and 5:30 p.m.

Winner of Tuesday’s game will play a semifinal match at Ross Wednesday at 4 p.m. while GCVI is to play at St. James at the same time in the other semifinal.

At this time of the season, the level of play should go up in each game as only the strong survive.

“It gets a lot tougher,” Andrews said. “We’re going to have to play as a team and communicate better because that’s our biggest challenge.”

The Gaels will get one practice session in before their semifinal match with St. James and they do have things they’ve identified that they need to work on.

“We have to work on passing short free balls and playing as a team,” Andrews said. “We have to make sure we eliminate the errors that we control on our side of the court.”

“Consistency – we’ll play really well at times and then we’ll play really, really poorly at times,” Reynolds said. “Just trying to stay at a high level the whole time and not make those mental mistakes and lose three or four or five points in a row is what we have to focus on.”

In junior, fourth-place Ross was defeated by fifth-place Lourdes 3-0 (25-20, 25-17, 25-16). The two teams had finished the regular season with identical 6-8 records, although Ross had won both of their regular-season matches.

In other junior matches, first-place Bishop Mac defeated eighth-place Centennial 3-0 (25-16, 25-7, 25-20) and second-place St. James beat seventh-place Guelph CVI 3-0 (25-5, 25-23, 25-13). Sixth-place Orangeville is to play at third-place Centre Wellington Tuesday at 4 p.m. in a match postponed Monday.

Bishop Mac and St. James are to host semifinal matches Wednesday at 4 p.m. Opponents will be decided after Tuesday’s match. If Orangeville wins, the Bears play at Bishop Mac and Lourdes plays at St. James. If Centre Wellington wins, the Falcons play at St. James and Lourdes plays at Bishop Mac.

The championship matches are set for Friday at the University of Guelph with the juniors going at 6 p.m. and the seniors at 8 p.m.

“I think anybody can win depending on the night,” Reynolds said.