Spartans glad to be back, volley to opening victory
GUELPH – The Centennial Spartans are usually one of the contenders in the District 10 high school senior boys’ volleyball league and they’re out to show that that hasn’t changed despite a layoff of just over two years.
Tuesday, the Spartans and all the other teams in the league began their delayed 2021 season two years and eight days after their previous D10 season, the 2019 campaign, finished.
“We’re just glad to be back in the gym,” Centennial coach Adam Wallace said. “The boys are ecstatic, we’re all ecstatic to be back here.”
“It feels amazing to be back,” Centennial captain Ben Viveiros said. “We waited so long for the season. It feels good to be back playing again, even with the restrictions it feels good.”
There are a few things different this season, other than the time the season got started. It usually begins in the middle of September and has wrapped up by now, but this year’s season was put on hold until the two local school boards made it mandatory for everyone involved in high school sports to be fully vaccinated.
This year teams play the entire match in the same court. There’s no changing sides and benches at the end of each game. And players and coaches are encouraged to wear their masks while sitting on the bench.
Also this year, for the first time since 2017, the senior loop features a full complement of squads as all eight D10 schools are competing.
The Spartans, and likely all the other D10 teams, got in the gym for practices as soon as they got the green light to do so.
“As soon as they gave us the OK, so about two weeks is about what we’ve had,” Wallace said. “We had some guys getting together and had some guys playing rep. We played a little bit of beach volleyball right in September just to get us outside.”
The Spartans are looking to leave the memories of 2019 behind as they finished the regular season that year with a 6-6 record and saw their campaign come to an end with a semifinal loss to the Bishop Macdonell Celtics.
With the late start to the season and no season at all last year, teams will be operating with what amounts to two years worth of graduating juniors as well as veteran seniors, the ones who are in Grade 12-plus.
“We’re starting from a different place,” Wallace said. “Luckily we have some guys that have come back that have some experience in our system so that helps catch some guys up quickly, but it is a different development curve, for sure.”
“We’re a little bit behind from last (season), but a couple of more practices and we’ll be just back to where we were last (season) and ready for a good season,” Viveiros said. “We have a lot of guys coming back for sports in 12-plus and to have one more run at the D10 after losing a couple of years, it’s going to feel good.”
Centennial had a streak of at least six consecutive appearances in the league finals (results are unavailable before 2013) and they won league honours in 2014 and 2015.
Tuesday, the Spartans swept the Orangeville Bears 3-0, winning 25-11, 25-8, 25-10.
“It was a good game for us,” Viveiros said. “There’s obviously things we can work on in practice, the next practice, but it’s good to be back and playing. I think we had a good game overall.”
Something else different this year is that teams play each other only once during the regular season rather than the usual twice. That gives each team a seven-game regular season.
Only the top four teams qualify for the playoffs that are to begin Dec. 13 with the semifinals. Usually all eight qualify for the quarterfinals. With no team advancing to CWOSSA playoffs, the season will end Dec. 15 with the championship match.
“We’re always looking to do really well and finish late in the season — get as deep as we can with the guys that we have,” Wallace said. “The development is a little bit different this year. Our goals for what things we can work on are a little bit shorter so we’ll get as good as we can in the time that we have.”
Ross 3 Bishop Macdonell 0 (25-17, 25-15, 25-23)
Guelph CVI 3 Lourdes 0 (25-23, 25-22, 25-23)
Centre Wellington 3 St. James 0 (25-15, 25-22, 25-19)
Centennial 3 Orangeville 0 (25-18, 25-20, 25-22)
Ross 3 Bishop Macdonell 1 (25-11, 25-19, 10-25, 25-23)
Centre Wellington 3 St. James 2 (25-19, 21-25, 25-9, 17-25, 15-11)
Lourdes 3 Guelph CVI 0 (27-25, 25-23, 25-12)
- Guelph Sports Journal