Express U14 boys grab gold

 Express U14 boys rally for gold


  St. Thomas U15 girls grab bronze, at the OVA provincial championships

Monday, April 9, 2018

Shock boys U10 team   St. Thomas Express, Under-14 boys,  Ontario Volleyball Association provincial division two tier two gold medalists, from left, front row - Ryder Smida, Bryer Stock, Owen Bogart, Kyle McIntee, Andrew Lawrence, coach Owen Lawrence; back row - coach Jamie Bogart, Mac Ferguson, Jonathan Cheung-Budd, Alex Gadsdon, Nick Estepa, Alistair MacIver, Owen Jeffs, coach Ken Gadsdon. Absent from photo is manager Brian Snida. 

(photo / courtesy St. Thomas Express)

By Rob J. Ross 

WATERLOO, ON -  Not too bad for a debut.

The St. Thomas Express under-14 boys brought home a gold medal, winning the Division Two tier two title, at the Ontario Volleyball Association provincial championships, April 6-8, at RIM Park.

St. Thomas defeated the Oakville Thunder, needing just two games to win the best of three final, 25-23, 25-17, capping the three day tournament.

Owen Jeffs earned an Award of Excellence, for his play during the tournament.

"Sunday for our team was about putting aside the nerves from day one and two and allowing the skills they had developed all year to take over," Express coach Owen Lawrence said. "The team also showed great resiliency including overcoming a 12-3 deficit to win their final game to defeat Oakville, 2-0."

St. Thomas tossed aside Hamilton MAC, 25-15, 25-23, in the semifinals, after pulling out a quarter-final win over Kingston Pegasus, 25-17, 19-25, 15-8.

"Our team demonstrated great improvement during the season. With virtually no experience at the start of the season, our players had to learn skills, strategies and systems to compete," said Lawrence. "We did hope to medal in our tier at the start of provincials and the gold was a bonus."

For the Express, their provincials mirrored their season overall, slow start, but ending strong. The team won two of six matches in pool play, before shining in the playoff round.  

"During our first tournament in Guelph, we lost almost all of our matches quite badly finishing ninth of 10 teams. After months of hard work and training, the boys earned a top five finish in London and then Chatham (with wins over two tier one teams)," said Lawrence.

"This weekend was a great learning experience for our boys, as it was the first OVA experience for all of them.  Although nerves were a big challenge on day one (Friday), the coaches were very proud of our athletes as they won all three matches (Sunday)."

Both the U14 boys, along with the U15 girls, are the first teams to represent the Express at the provincials. It is the club's first year known as Express, following six years as Spikes.

The Express U15 girls won a bronze medal, defeating the Oakville Eagles, 25-13, 13-25, 15-11, in the division five tier 2 third place game.

St. Thomas took care of Kemptville Mustangs, in the quarter-finals, 25-18, 25-14, but the Chatham Ballhawks prevented the Express from advancing to the gold medal game, winning a semifinal, with a pair of 25-20 wins.

The U13 and U14 girls have their provincial tournament later this month.