from Tim Smith, SDSS
The Saugeen District Royals Sr boys volleyball team travels to Brockville Wednesday through Saturday to compete at the Ontario Federation of School Athletic Associations (OFSAA) tournament. For high school sports this tournament is the pinnacle of competition, the best teams from across the province will compete for right to say you are the best in all of Ontario.
To arrive at this point many would wonder, how did this happen?
Locally the team finished with a 4-5 record and did not qualify for the BAA playoffs. They did qualify for a Central Western Ontario Secondary Schools Association (CWOSSA) qualifier and this
would be the turning point for the season. The boys started to play more like the team that coaches Al Gundrum and Tim Smith expected. A season that included participating in 4 tournaments
(Fanshawe College, Stratford Central SS, Goderich DCVI and Stratford St. MIkes) to gain valuable experience playing strong program. This experience started to show as the playoff run began.
At the CWOSSA Qualifier hosted by SDSS the Royals took down St. Mary's 3 sets to 0 and Grey Highlands 3 sets to 0. This play was followed by dominating the field at CWOSSA (Simcoe Composite SS) finishing the round robin undefeated winning all 3 matches
2-0 vs Our Lady of Lourdes (Guelph), Glenview Park (Brantford) and Simcoe Composite. Sweeping the round robin placed SDSS as first place team in pool, they would face a familiar opponent in Sacred Heart - Walkerton. After dropping all 3 meetings with Sacred Heart during the regular season the boys felt confident with the game plan. They executed the plan perfectly and defeated the Crusaders 2-1.
Norwell District (Palmerston) was victorious in their semi-final and the two first place teams from round robin would meet for the title.
A thunderous crunch by middle Nathan Van Myall set the tone on the very first play. Colton Heipel played a terrific Libero (defensive specialist) frustrating the Norwell hitters with several solid digs. Cam McEwen feeling a little under the weather came up with some key blocks to turn back the attackers. Sam Maksymyk and Nolan Dereski had timely hits from the left side, but more importantly passed most serves to allow SDSS to run a varied attack. This attack confused the middle blockers from Norwell as they had no idea where Luc Nusselder would set the ball. Trevor Donaldson, playing the right side covered a large area on defense and stepped up to set when Luc was forced to play the first ball over the net.
Rahul Pandya played a key role in the win as he identified the opponents setter and hitters each and every serve. This may seem like a little thing to do, but knowing if the setter is front court or back court has a major impact on blocking schemes. His positive approach to the match was a benefit to the team and absolutely assisted with the win.
The Royals hope to have a strong tournament at OFSAA and build on past record. Last year the team lost a tough match to Eden 17-15 in set 5 and the year before the boys brought home 4th place. Had the Royals defeated Eden (winner of 8 of past 10 OFSAA's)
they would have been guaranteed a medal.
Some matches at OFSAA will be streamed. Interested viewers may visit the OFSAA website, select Championships, select 'AA' Boys volleyaball. Follow links to streaming.