Win Huron-Perth Conference volleyball title for second time in three years
By Pat Payton
It was kind of fitting that Abbey Thorup served the 25th and final winning point last Tuesday afternoon at DCVI.
Thorup, the Salukis’ captain and on-court leader, was one of five fifth-year players on the Senior girls team who played their last competitive volleyball game at the collegiate. When they reflect back, it will be a special memory as the 2018-19 DCVI squad captured the Huron-Perth Conference playoff title three games to one over the rival Stratford St. Michael Warriors. The scores were 25-10, 26-24, 18-25 and 25-16.
A little bittersweet
For the Senior Salukis, it was their second H-P championship in the last three years. Thorup, the best player on the court, admitted that last Tuesday was a little bittersweet.
“It was our last home game today,” she said after accepting the H-P playoff banner with her fifth-year starters. “It’s kind of sad. It’s pretty well been the same girls all the way through.”
Last week’s best-of-five conference final pitted the 9-1 Salukis against the 8-2 Warriors.
In front of a full house, it was all St. Marys in the opening set. Salukis built early 7-4, 12-6 and 19-7 leads en route to a rather easy win.
The second set wasn’t quite so easy for the DCVI girls. Warriors got more engaged and the teams exchanged the lead several times. St. Mikes was one point from tying the match with a 24-22 lead, but St. Marys rallied to win the next four points and take a commanding 2-0 series lead.
“When we get behind, I don’t get too concerned,” coach Steve Chateauvert told the Independent. “We saw that last week at WOSSAA; we were behind five or six points a couple of times and came back. We’ve got the players who can score points when we need them and they don’t get too fazed when we get behind.”
The third set was close in the early going, but a 9-0 run helped the Warriors pull away and they cruised to their only win of the day.
Salukis led from start to finish in the fourth set, building 7-4, 14-9 and 19-12 leads. Urged on by a cheering home crowd, it was obvious that the home team didn’t want to see the match go to a fifth and deciding set.
Consistent serving, passing
“I think the difference today was just consistent serving and passing in the sets we won,” coach Chateauvert summed up. “In the set we lost, our passing wasn’t very good, especially on serve receive. We missed five or six serves.”
Chateauvert was quick to note that it was a full team effort, with the fifth-year starters–Thorup, Aimee King, Nathalie Bettger, Robyn Lewis and Emma Bryans–leading the way. Other standouts were Stacey Shackleton and Kayley Thompson, he said.
“Our three main passers are Aimee, Nathalie and Stacey, and they always do a great job,” the coach said. “They give our setters, Robyn and Abbey, a great chance to set the ball. And Stacey, Aimee and Abbey had some great hits today. Abbey hits the ball so hard and so well.
“Kayley Thompson chased down some balls today; she really lays it on the line. She does whatever she can to get to a ball and get it up. It’s really nice to see her hustle and her effort.”
Chateauvert also lauded Bryans for good serving in critical situations. “When we were down 24-22 in the second set, if Emma misses a serve we lose the set. And she didn’t. She’s been really clutch in some high-pressure moments.”
Warriors’ coach Bryan Kocher praised the Salukis’ defensive play.
“St. Marys picked a lot of balls defensively to keep rallies going,” he said. “In the second set, we had a chance to win it, but couldn’t put it away. Coming back from 2-0 is tough.
“For us, it’s serving and passing. That has to go well for us to be successful,” he added.
–This week, Mar. 4-6, the DCVI Senior girls competed at the OFSAA ‘A’ championship tournament in Kenora. It was their third straight trip to OFSAA, winning it in 2017 and finished fourth overall last year.
“I think we have the chance to be pretty competitive again,” coach Chateauvert said last week. “We have five starters back from last year. We’ve got Abbey in a different role this year; she’s hitting a lot more and a lot of the other girls have improved significantly. I like our chances, we’re cautiously optimistic. It should be fun.”
–Abbey Thorup has been a member of a WOSSAA volleyball championship team (Junior and Senior) all five years that she’s attended DCVI. Thorup and her teammates also won the H-P title four years ago as Juniors.
–St. Mikes Warriors recently reached the WOSSAA ‘AA’ final, losing 3-1 to Mother Teresa of London.
–In other volleyball news, DCVI Senior boy Tom Wrigley has signed to play university volleyball next year with Nipissing Lakers in North Bay.