Ross Royals sweep D10 boys’ volleyball finals
GUELPH – The Ross Royals kept a District 10 high school boys’ volleyball title-winning streak alive Monday night at the district’s championship doubleheader at the Guelph Gryphons Athletics Centre.
The Royals had claimed at least one D10 boys’ volleyball title, either senior or junior, for six consecutive seasons heading into championship night and they made sure of extending that streak by capturing both Monday.
Ross completed the championship-night sweep with a 3-2 victory over the Lourdes Crusaders for their sixth senior title win in seven seasons, the lone absence being a win by the Centennial Spartans in 2021 after the year off due to the pandemic.
The Royals had started the title-night twinbill with a 3-0 victory over the Centre Wellington Falcons. Afterwards, the Royals had their photo taken with the junior championship plaque for the third time in four seasons, again Centennial being the interloper last year.
Ross won the senior match 25-17, 23-25, 25-23, 19-25, 15-7.
“It was a tough one,” Ross senior coach Josh Ogden said. “It was a lot closer than I expected.”
Ross had finished the regular season in first place at 13-1 while Lourdes was third at 10-4. The lone loss for the Royals was to the Crusaders as Lourdes won 3-1 at Ross Sept. 28. The Royals avenged that with a 3-0 victory at Lourdes Oct. 24.
“We lost early in the season to these guys, but we beat them recently,” Ogden said.
Playing in a championship match often brings pressure and both teams usually raise their level of play.
“It was tough on the floor,” Ogden said. “I think that if we played our best, I don’t think it would have been that close. It never really felt like we weren’t going to win.”
And there was also the pressure of playing at the larger GGAC facility and in front of a larger crowd than league play brings.
“I think they like it and it gets them excited,” Ogden said of playing at the university facility. “It’s just the space of it. The bigger space kind of gets hard to figure out where the lines are,” but it didn’t take long before they got it figured out.”
Ross took the junior final 25-16, 25-21, 25-23.
The Royals didn’t look like they’d be championship contenders at the beginning of the season when they dropped two of their first three matches. However, they responded with 11 consecutive wins to finish first at 12-2. Centre Wellington was third at 10-4.
“It was a bit of a slow start to be honest, but you know the boys were so good in practice,” Ross junior coach Chris Muller said. “They worked so hard leading up to the second half of the season and then we were just undefeated throughout. Playoffs were pretty easy for us and then we were prepared just because of their work ethic and I think overall willingness to play.”
With Ross and Centre Wellington both being AAA schools, the D10 junior final was for more than just district bragging rights. A berth in the CWOSSA AAA tournament was also on the line.
“Anytime you win D10 it’s a huge moment for our junior boys here,” Muller said. “So it’s so important but now it’s exciting to get to go to CWOSSA for sure.”
Both Ross squads advance to the CWOSSA AAA championship tournament Thursday at Waterloo’s RIM Park and Kitchener’s Grand River CI.
“We’ve got to be a little bit more creative with some of the plays we’re running,” Ogden said of what the Royals needed to do to have a successful CWOSSA AAA senior tournament. “We need a little more misdirection. We have some plays, we have lots of plays, we just didn’t execute at all tonight. We kind of went back to basics.”
“We’ve got two days for a practice and then right to it,” Muller said. “But I think we’ve been kind of preparing ourselves for that next step all season, trying new things and I think we’re prepared.
“It all comes down to defense and coverage to be honest. It’s all knowing on the court where that ball is about to go and anticipate. And I think again it was a pretty slow start for us in terms of coverage and anticipation at the start of the season, but the boys have come a pretty long way since then. They move around the court really well and they track the ball.”
Lourdes also moves on to the CWOSSA AA tournament at John Diefenbaker Senior School in Hanover in both senior and junior. The senior tournament is set for Thursday and the junior tournament is to go Friday.
- Guelph Sports Journal