Nolan Dereski, Ty Schropp, Matt Lemcke, Jake Kloosterhof, Cam McEwen, Murray Martin, Trevor Donaldson, Duncan Wilkinson, Liam Flaherty
Missing from photo, Coach Al Gundrum and Tim Smith
from Tim Smith SDSS
The Saugeen DSS Sr. Boys volleyball team traveled to Windsor last week to compete for the OFSAA championship. There are approximately 1000 secondary schools in Ontario with about 1/3 in the 'AA' division. Only 20 qualify for the annual OFSAA event and SDSS returned a team for the 2nd consecutive year.
Last year the boys shocked teams at the Kenora hosted event and went undefeated in round robin play with a 4-0 record. They went on to win the antique Bronze medal (4th place) losing to Lasalle in a very close match.
To prepare for this season team members were informed of all practices and the 5 weekend tournaments they would need to commit. The team started out playing in Stratford the first week back to school and Fanshawe College the following week. These tournaments produced good results, but the guys could see they had to work harder if they were to reach their potential.
More tournaments followed, Conestoga College, Goderich and Stratford Agriplex hosted by Stratford St. Mike's. With each tournament the team realized its strengths and weaknesses. Coaches Al Gundrum and Tim Smith focused on certain skill development to elevate the teams potential reducing weakness and playing to strengths.
Saugeen marched through the Bluewater playoffs winning the local championship defeating Walkerton DCS in quarter finals and Peninsula Shores in the semi's. With a scare in the finals from Sacred Heart losing set 1 and falling behind in set 2 the Royals turned on their A game and were victorious in sets 2, 3 and 4. The boys continued to play solid volleyball entering the CWOSSA final, but unfortunately came up short losing to Norwell DSS (Palmerston). Because the team performed so well the year before at OFSAA, tournament organizers granted 2 entries from the CWOSSA region. This would open the door for a repeat visit to OFSAA for the Royals.
Opening the tournament ranked 7th, the team played L'Escale SS and after opening up a 15-9 lead in set one, they went on to lose 25-23. After rebounding in set 2 winning to even the best of 3 round robin match, they lost 16-14 in the deciding set. A tough way to start the tournament, but the Royals were determined to play their best volleyball of the season, defeating Beatrice Desloges, Monarch Park (#1 seed in pool) and Adam Scott. With a 3-1 record the local team was tied for first in pool play with L'escale. Because of the loss at the start of the tournament the Royals would be ranked 2nd in pool.
Eden (St Catherine's) the winner of 9 of the last 10 OFSAA's would be the next opponent. Each team played inspired volleyball with points adding up on the scoreboard for each team. Eden took set 1, 25-22, SDSS would bounce back to win set 2, 25-23. This pattern would repeat until the fifth and deciding set was to be played. True character is revealed when faced with adversity. The Royals were down 14-12 in a set where the first to 15 is declared the winner. They pushed to even the score at 14-14. Following a timeout the Royals put up a block against Eden's best hitter, who found the block. The blocked ball fell to the ground on Eden's side of the court, but a mere inch out of bounds. Eden went on to win this match 17-15 and eventually the bronze medal. Although devastated initially with the loss, upon reflection team members realized they had left their mark once again with the best in the Province.
The coaches were thrilled with the effort the team put forward to play this match and have always stated that if you are going to lose, go down playing the best you can.