Gaels get winning feeling in senior volleyball final

Rob Massey, Guelph Sports Journal

GUELPH – Several of the Guelph CVI Green Gaels players had no desire experiencing the feeling they had on the District 10 high school girls’ volleyball championship night in 2016.

“We were here before two years ago as juniors and that certainly helped with experience,” GCVI coach Scott Heasman said. “They came ready to play and they certainly wanted it tonight.”

“When we were in Grade 10, we went to the D10 final as well, but we choked,” Gaels captain Cassidy Andrews said. She was her team’s MVP of the senior final. “We couldn’t handle the pressure. This year I think we were more prepared and ready for it because we’d all been to D10 before and that’s what made the difference.”

That February night in 2016 in the University of Guelph’s West Gym, the Gaels were swept by the Ross Royals in the D10 junior final. Things would be different this time, starting with playing in the Guelph Gryphons Athletics Centre that was under construction in 2016.

“They stayed in the moment and they remained focused,” Heasman said. “Nothing rattled them and that was the important thing. We didn’t allow any big momentum swings. Their play didn’t deteriorate at all so that was the big thing. And we stayed aggressive.”

The Gaels made it look relatively easy as they swept the Centennial Spartans in Friday night’s final, winning 25-9, 25-14, 25-12.

“It’s never easy with nerves,” Heasman said. “We certainly executed maybe better than they did.”

“We just needed to focus and play hard,” Andrews said.

The Gaels did have a plan coming in and they stuck to it.

“The game plan was to dominate the middle of the game and expand our lead during that time,” Heasman said. “They stuck to the game plan and it worked out marvelously.”

The championship win completes an undefeated run through the D10 season for the Gaels as they claimed their first senior title since 2007.

“It is an accomplishment,” Heasman said of the unbeaten campaign. “It’s an accomplishment for them to stay focused in order to play all those games and in most cases we played everyone. Everyone got to play so it wasn’t necessarily just our strong best. Obviously when we got to the playoffs it was a little bit different, but it was certainly a team effort for the regular season being undefeated.”

“I thought we were going to win because we beat them every other time, but it feels good to solidify going undefeated.”

GCVI had swept Centennial twice in the regular season, winning at home Dec. 19 and at Centennial last week on the final day of the regular season.

Julia Murray was Centennial’s MVP of the final.

The Gaels advance to the CWOSSA AAA championship tournament Thursday at the University of Waterloo and Kitchener’s Forest Heights CI. Other teams in GCVI’s will be Owen Sound Wolves and Forest Heights Trojans. Brantford CI Mustangs and the Cambridge pair of Preston Panthers and St. Benedict Saints will be in the other pool.

“We played in the Jacob Hespeler tournament last Friday and we lost out in the semis,” Heasman said. “I expect to be competitive (at CWOSSA) and we’ll see what happens.”

“We did well at Jacob Hespeler so I think we should do well at CWOSSA,” Andrews said.