Ross seniors, Bishop Mac juniors claim volleyball titles

Rob Massey, Guelph Sports Journal

GUELPH – The Ross Royals seniors and Bishop Macdonell Celtics juniors picked up the first District 10 high school championship plaques awarded at the new Guelph Gryphons Athletics Centre when they claimed girls’ volleyball titles Friday night.

Both beat challenges from the St. James Lions, Ross sweeping the senior match 3-0 (25-18, 25-17, 25-16) and Bishop Mac taking the junior game 3-1 (29-31, 25-12, 25-22, 25-14).

Ross claimed its second senior title in four years as the Royals jumped all over the Lions who were having an uncharacteristically off game. Ross had finished first at the end of the regular season at 13-1 while St. James was second at 12-2, both of the losses coming against the Royals.

“They played really well,” Ross coach Julie Stedman said. “Was it their best game? It was the best they performed under this pressure. I’ve seen them play some amazing games over the course of the season. They were consistent, which is what we needed. We needed to not be the ones making the mistakes. We needed to make them earn the points and that’s exactly what we did.”

“We had a pep talk before in the Guelph Gryphons change room and it really got our heads into the game,” Ross player of the game Lisa Wedel said. “We really showed up this game. For me, I’ve lost three years in a row and twice (both in junior) to St. James. It feels really good to revenge. I had to wait three years to get it, but well worth the wait.”

The Royals tried to cover as much of the floor as they could with their defence and that had as much to do with the win as their offensive performance.

“Defence wins championships and, fortunately, we have a really strong libero, she gets everything,” Wedel said. “Our setter has been playing senior for five years and she’s really good. She gets to everything. It doesn’t matter where the pass is, she’s got it. As long as we can hit it over the net, that’s what I try to do, we can win.”

Ross’s offence wasn’t fancy as there were no big slams, but it got the job done.

“In volleyball, everybody looks for the big flashy hitter,” Wedel said. “But we really focus on placing the ball because that’s what’s going to win.”

“They were taking risks, but they were calculated risks,” Stedman said. “They were being smart. They were seeing the court and they were putting the ball where they weren’t. Everything we practised, they were able to put it together at the right time.”

Player of the game for St. James was Emma McDonell.

Both teams advance to their respective CWOSSA tournaments Thursday. Ross is to compete in the AAA senior tournament at Kitchener-Waterloo and St. James in the AA senior tournament at Paris.

“I expect to have a pretty decent showing,” Stedman. “I think, my own personal bias, that we have the best defence in the league and some of the best offensive players. I think we can hold up pretty well against those Kitchener-Waterloo teams. They’re seasoned and they have a lot of club players. It’s always tough, but the past few years we’ve been getting closer and I think this is the year that we could, you know, perhaps do it. Fingers crossed.”

JUNIOR

The Celtics took a little time to get accustomed to their surroundings and the pressure of the game, then pulled away for the victory.

“Most of our team are young players. Most of them are Grade 9,” Bishop Mac co-coach Brian Burns said. “I think the first game, they were just getting the butterflies out and once we got over the hump, they got the momentum and they built their confidence and that’s what brought us the next three games.”

“We both knew it was going to be a marathon match,” fellow Bishop Mac co-coach Katie Anstett said. “We weren’t really surprised. We thought they were awesome all year and we knew it wasn’t going to be easy.”

After the Lions prevailed in the lengthy opening set and the teams battled evenly in the early portion of the second set, Bishop Mac calmed down to claim their first D10 junior title since 2010.

“I think they actually came out to have fun,” Anstett said of the Celtics. “They were nervous, but excited. I feel like everything kind of gelled together at the right time.”

Bishop Mac had finished atop the league at the conclusion of the regular season with an 11-3 record while St. James was second at 10-4.

Players of the game were Julia Burns of Bishop Mac and Yzabel Collado of St. James.

Bishop Mac advances to the CWOSSA AA junior tournament at Brantford Thursday.

“We’re coming off a couple of wins with losses within the match so they’re dealing with adversity,” co-coach Burns said. “It’s easy to win three straight all the time, but they’re learning to deal with a little adversity and come back from it. We feel good about going into CWOSSA.”

“We’re just go into it and play our best and not really worry about who’s there,” Anstett said.

The Orangeville Bears will be D10’s representative in the CWOSSA AAA junior tournament at Kitchener-Waterloo.