Lions into volleyball semis and CWOSSA tourney
GUELPH – The St. James Lions achieved one of their goals Monday as they locked down a berth in next week’s CWOSSA AA high school senior girls’ volleyball championship tournament.
“That was a personal goal for the team,” St. James coach Joanna Ciolfi said. “They wanted to make it as we have a lot of seniors on the team who aren’t coming back so they wanted this. They were hungry for it.”
And they got it.
The Lions are the lone AA team that posted a District 10 quarter-final victory as they slipped by the Bishop Macdonell Celtics, another AA team, 3-1 at Bishop Mac.
D10’s other AA squad, the Lourdes Crusaders, was swept 3-0 by the Ross Royals. Ross, Guelph CVI Green Gaels, Centennial Spartans, Centre Wellington Falcons and Orangeville Bears are AAA teams.
The Lions and Celtics had tied for fourth at the completion of the regular season with 8-6 records. They split their two matches, both winning 3-2, but Bishop Mac scored more points in the two matches to earn the right to host the quarter-final.
“We knew going into this it was neck-and-neck,” Ciolfi said. “We knew it was going to be a tight match and it could’ve been anyone’s game. They’re really a good team and we were just hoping for the outcome we wanted.”
The Celtics took the first set 25-23 before St. James came back with three consecutive wins – 25-18, 25-15, 25-22 — to claim the victory.
“I just knew if they kept their energy up, they’d be fine,” Ciolfi set of the setback in the first set. “They played well in that first set so I was just hoping they could come back from it and they did, energized and ready to play.”
The Lions applied the old baseball adage of hitting it where they aren’t to take the final three sets as many of their hits were right between Celtics players.
“They have such a good team, it was just about trying to play around some of their strengths and get by that way,” Ciolfi said. “They’re a great team, they’ve got great players and they’ve got great hitters so it was just playing our best to compete with their best.”
While the Lions and Celtics had battled fairly evenly throughout the regular season, many had been on the floor at the Guelph Gryphons Athletics Centre in last year’s junior final. Bishop Mac won that one.
“Last year we went to D10 for juniors against them – same coaches and a lot of the same girls,” Ciolfi said.
The senior quarter-final win must have been sweet revenge for the Lions.
“Not revenge, but we’re just trying to keep it going,” Ciolfi said.
Monday’s three other quarter-finals all ended in sweeps for the hosts.
First-place GCVI defeated Orangeville 3-0 (25-9, 25-8, 25-15), second-place Centennial downed seventh-place Centre Wellington 3-0 (25-20, 25-17, 25-13) and third-place Ross downed sixth-place Lourdes 3-0 (25-9, 25-20, 25-15).
Those results left GCVI hosting St. James in one of Wednesday’s semifinals and Ross playing at Centennial in the other.
Wednesday’s winners advance to Friday’s final at the Guelph Gryphons Athletics Centre. Game time is 8 p.m.
The CWOSSA AA tournament is set for Feb. 21 and 22 at Simcoe.
The top four recorded victories in Monday’s quarter-finals.
First-place Orangeville defeated eighth-place Lourdes 3-1 (25-11, 24-26, 25-13, 25-19), second-place GCVI swept seventh-place Centennial 3-0 (25-12, 25-16, 25-18), third-place Ross downed sixth-place St. James 3-1 (19-25, 25-16, 25-20, 25-20) and fourth-place Bishop Macdonell defeated fifth-place Centre Wellington. Scores from that match were not reported.
Wednesday’s semifinals pit Bishop Mac against Orangeville and Ross against GCVI.
Winners gain berths in Friday’s 6 p.m. final at the GGAC.
- Guelph Sports Journal