WOSSAA ‘A’ tournament this week in Dorchester
By Pat Payton
Abbey Thorup led the way and her DCVI teammates followed in the Huron-Perth League Senior girls volleyball playoff tournament last Thursday at DCVI.
Thorup and the Salukis won all six of their sets to earn a spot in the H-P final against rival St. Michael Warriors. That championship match was scheduled for last Friday morning at the collegiate, but postponed due to inclement weather. It has been tentatively re-scheduled for this Friday, Feb. 22.
Meanwhile, the Senior Salukis are competing in WOSSAA ‘A’ on Wednesday (Feb. 20) of this week, hoping to gain a berth at OFSAA. The Western Ontario tournament is being hosted by Lord Dorchester secondary school.
St. Marys plays its first game Wednesday at 11 a.m. against North Middlesex from Parkhill at the Flight Exec Centre (twin pad arena with gym). The bronze-medal game is slated for 1 p.m. at the Flight Exec Centre, and the gold-medal game is at the Dorchester high school at 4 p.m. Woodstock C.I. and a London representative are the other two Senior teams taking part.
Sweep Huskies in semi-finals
In the Huron-Perth semi-finals last Thursday afternoon, the Senior Salukis punched their ticket to the conference championship by sweeping the Northwestern Huskies three sets to none.
Salukis fought hard to win every point in all three sets, but the difference between the two sides was Thorup. The fifth-year player was the best server and hitter on the court, and also her team’s vocal leader all day.
“We just had consistent play,” coach Steve Chateauvert replied when asked why Salukis were able to sweep a good Northwestern team. “Our serving has been a bit of a challenge all year, but it was a little better today. When we got down, we didn’t miss serves when we needed to.
“We were on our toes today and on our game.”
The opening set was all St. Marys as the DCVI Seniors built 8-4, 16-10 and 18-13 leads en route to a 25-14 victory. Thorup served seven winners in a row to finish the game. “Defensively, we played well in the first set, and our passing was good,” Chateauvert said.
In the second set, Salukis had to dig deep to pull out a come-from-behind 26-24 win. Huskies charged out to an early 8-2 lead and extended their advantage to 17-11 and 20-12. However, sparked by Thorup’s serving, hitting and defence, Salukis began to chip away at the Northwestern lead–winning six of seven points in one stretch.
Trailing 23-20, St. Marys won the next four points to grab a 24-23 lead. Huskies tied it 24-24, but Salukis won the final two points to take a 2-0 stranglehold on the match.
“In the second set, I was concerned was sure,” Chateauvert said. “We didn’t seem to be passing as well, not getting the ball up to our setters. And that obviously leads to problems on offence.”
The second-set loss seemed to deflate the Northwestern squad, and Salukis cruised to a 25-16 victory in the third set. Some individual standouts for St. Marys in the final set were Thorup and Stacey Shackleton, who provided both excellent serving and defence, and Lauren Cameron who contributed good setting.
“Stacey dug up a lot of balls defensively in the back court, and Nathalie Bettger hit some balls deep to the corners as well,” the coach pointed out.
In the quarter-finals in the morning, Salukis easily disposed of Mitchell Blue Devils, 25-4, 25-11 and 25-18.
“Against Mitchell, we had really strong performances from Aimee King and Nathalie Bettger,” Chateauvert noted. “They both hit very well on the outside, and it was a more balanced attack. We rely on Abbey a lot, but we can’t give the ball to her all the time,” he added with a laugh.
Note: In the other Senior semi-final last Thursday, St. Mikes swept the Central Rams 3-0.
In Huron-Perth regular-season play, St. Marys and Central were both 9-1, and St. Mikes and Goderich Vikings both 8-2. Northwestern (6-4) defeated Goderich 3-1 in the quarter-finals last Thursday.