Story by Jeff Gard/Total Sports Quinte
Competing at the provincial championship was a huge accomplishment, but the Quinte Christian High School Eagles were grateful just to have a volleyball season this year.
Last year’s season was cancelled and this was the final opportunity for a number of the Quinte Christian players to compete in high school volleyball as the majority of the team is comprised of Grade 12 students.
After recently winning the Central Ontario championship, the Eagles’ season concluded at the Ontario Federation of School Athletic Associations boys ‘A’ volleyball championship tournament held this past Thursday through Saturday in Caledon.
“That was kind of permeating, this gratitude that we’re getting this opportunity,” said Quinte Christian coach Eric Lammers. “Typically if you’re in Grade 11 and (advance to OFSAA) you learn what it takes and this is how it feels. A student said to me ‘what hurts the most is we don’t get another chance at this.’”
Still, the Quinte Christian players made the most of their OFSAA opportunity, finishing round-robin pool play with a 3-1 record before losing in the quarter-finals.
Quinte Christian’s only defeats in the tournament came at the hands of the gold-medal winning Hamilton District Christian High School in their opening game of pool play and the bronze-medal winning Acton District School in the quarter-finals.
“It’s funny with sport because you take some solace in the fact that the gold and bronze medallists are the teams that we lost to,” Lammers said. “We were right in the mix.”
Lammers was familiar with a number of the Hamilton players, comprised of club athletes, and the team was certainly a force to be reckoned with in going undefeated en route to capturing the OFSAA gold. They defeated Quinte Christian 2-0 (25-16, 25-19).
“They just had a pace that you don’t see often in high school,” Lammers said. “They run things quickly so with the setter the ball isn’t going as high. People think of height, but it’s also speed so they were just a very fast offence. The setter could go to anyone, so five options.”
Lammers thought his club had a good shot at winning its quarter-final match-up, but Acton “played very, very well) and prevailed 3-1 (23-25, 25-20, 25-21, 27-25).
“They scrambled really hard and had a finisher that gave us too many troubles,” he said.
Quinte Christian battled hard to the end and showed why they were able to win three OFSAA games leading up to the playoff round. In pool play, the Eagles swept matches 2-0 against Timiskaming (25-22, 25-22), ESC Renaissance (25-19, 29-27) and Gravenhurst (25-22, 25-16).
“They don’t quit,” Lammers said of his players. “Some of the rallies were ridiculous. There’s just no quit on defence, which was probably our identity and then just getting it done on offence. I was very proud of them. We had, I thought, a tougher pool and they came through with some huge wins.”
Members of the Quinte Christian senior boys volleyball team were Matthew Andrawis, Brodey Brooks, Silas Luyt, Justin Postma, Dylan Prinzen, Noah Van Dyke, Edward Vanderwilp, Timothy Vanderwilp, Nolan Walcott, Andrew Walcott, George Walcott and Evan Westerman. Joining Lammers on the coaching staff were Jordan Hall, Janice Brooks and Curtis deVries.
It was a shorter season than the players and coaches are accustomed to, but Lammers lauded the local schools and communities for getting high school sports back up and running.
“The boys finished up soccer and we had a late start, but they were so committed in practice and we’re just grateful to the community for running the league and I’m just really proud how the boys made the most of this opportunity,” Lammers said.