Centennial, Ross Royals split D10 boys’ volleyball titles
GUELPH – The Centennial Spartans seniors and Ross Royals juniors found the wait to play their District 10 high school boys’ volleyball championship games not so bad after all.
Centennial captured the senior title with a 3-0 win over Ross in the championship doubleheader Thursday in a fairly empty gym at Centennial. The Spartans posted set wins of 25-17, 25-19 and 25-14.
The Royals responded with a 3-1 win in the following junior contest.
The championship twinbill was held almost 10 weeks after the originally scheduled duo of finals for a season that was late starting in the first place.
“We started playing beach,” Centennial senior coach Adam Wallace said. “We started playing indoor sometime in November and we finish in the next year in February. That’s got to be a unique one.”
COVID-19 had its hands all over this schedule. The pandemic caused the season to begin shortly after high school boys’ volleyball’s usually closing time. Then it caused the original postponement just before the Christmas holidays. The lockdown following the holidays left the final on the shelf until Thursday.
“Just waiting, waiting in limbo and trying to stay semi-focused not knowing anything really,” Wallace said. “Obviously, it feels really good to get it done.”
The Spartans did manage to get a little bit of preparation in as they tried to get back to the level they would’ve been at had the final been held in December.
“We had four practices, that’s all,” said Centennial co-captain Ben Viveiros. “That can get you back in the groove.”
Of course, neither the Spartans nor the Royals were at the level they would’ve been at in a championship game at the end of a normal season.
“I think we’d be a lot more smooth and we’d be better, but with those four practices I think we got pretty much up to where we were (in December) and the outcome is we won, what we wanted,” Viveiros said.
“We thought we were playing pretty well before we took this hiatus and we needed to get back into that groove,” Wallace said. “The first practice was shaking off some rust and getting that positioning down. We thought we did as good as we could in the four days we had to get back on track.”
And the Spartans managed to keep all their players around. In high school sports that are usually held solely in the first semester, it’s common for some players to leave high school at the completion of that semester.
“We had some that had planned to leave and they made some arrangements to stick around to finish the job, which was good,” Wallace said. “They needed to be in courses so we got them in courses to finish it off properly.”
The Spartans capped off an undefeated season with the title win. They had won all seven of their regular-season matches while Ross finished second at 5-2. Both teams swept their semifinals, Centennial beating the fourth-place Guelph CVI Green Gaels and the Royals disposing of the third-place Lourdes Crusaders.
Unfortunately for the champs, there’s nothing beyond D10 in boys’ volleyball this school year.
“We had a team that we would’ve been thinking further, especially in tournaments or maybe getting a little CWOSSA run in to see how deep we could go,” Wallace said. “Without that, we had a singular focus to go get this. In a way there were no distractions, let’s go get this and get it done.”
“Our goal was CWOSSA and OFSAA, but since they’re not happening we’re happy with D10 and happy to end the season on a win,” Viveiros said.
The same two schools contested the junior final, but the result was different. Ross took the title with a 3-1 victory as they were sparked by an 18-point run in the opening set.
“They wanted that so badly after this season and all the barriers of COVID and just not knowing if we were going to be able to play this,” said Ross junior coach Chantelle Bott. “We were supposed to play on the Monday (in December) in the championship game, but with all the COVID stuff they were super bummed. I think they were just ready to come back and take it and they showed it on the court.
“It was a very long wait and we really didn’t think it was going to happen so I’m really excited that it did.”
The Royals had a pair of practices in the lead-up to the final.
“It was just getting back into it. Some serving and some serve receive was really our main focus,” Bott said. “They’re such a good group of boys so it wasn’t really hard. They really love the game. It was more just getting their butts out to morning practice. Other than that, they’re a great group and they want to be there. You could see that today in the game. It wasn’t that hard to motivate them.”
The loss was the first of the season for Centennial as the Spartans had gone a perfect 7-0 in the regular season while the lone loss for the Royals was to Centennial by a 3-1 score a week before the originally-scheduled championship match.
Both teams won their semifinals, Centennial slipping by the fourth-place Bishop Macdonell Celtics 3-2 and Ross sweeping by the third-place Centre Wellington Falcons 3-0.
While the D10 junior champions usually end their season at a CWOSSA tournament, there’s nothing beyond the district final this season.
“That’s sad because I think they have a lot of potential,” Bott said. “They could’ve gone even further, but we’ll take this.”
Guelph Sports Journal