Dorchester defeats Central Elgin for TVRA 1A South-East junior girls' volleyball crown
while WCI takes the senior final downing the West Elgin Wildcats
Friday, February 8, 2019
By Rob J. Ross
WOODSTOCK, ON. - Consistent passing and steadying influence from their captain led the Lord Dorchester Beavers to sweeping success of their league playoff season.
The Beavers never dropped a game on their way to capturing the Thames Valley Regional Athletics (TVRA) South-East 1A junior girls' volleyball title, defeating the Central Elgin Titans in the final, at Woodstock Collegiate Institute (WCI).
"We had nice steady play. We stayed steady all of the way through," Beavers' coach Bruce Dalke said. "I was really pleased with their level headedness. Nobody panicked. We had a couple of bad communications but we kept playing."
Dorchester dusted Central Elgin, 25-19, 25-20, 25-22.
"We have strength at every position. At junior especially, when the passing isn't good you don't get any attacks out of the middle. But our passing was good and our setters could run the offence," Dalke said. "All of our bench got in during the semifinal. There are a lot of Grade nines learning the sport whom have come a long ways this year and had some nice contribution in the semis. I had to shorten the bench in the final when all of the games were really close. We were never safely ahead."
The Beavers brushed aside the West Elgin Wildcats in the semifinals.
Leaha Johnston, co-captain with Grace McLean, was a force on the court, stepping up in her game and calming the Beavers when the Titans had a run in points.
"Leaha Johnston is so, so steady. Anything that comes to her she has a good play and never rattled," said Dalke. "She did a really good job of being a leader on the court. She's a steadying influence."
Last spring Johnston had a solid hand on the javelin, taking the discipline to the OFSAA track and field championships and placing 12th. A week earlier at the regional meet, Johnston was third in javelin and 10th, in shot put.
Dorchester finished second in the East Division, behind Woodstock College Avenue (AA school), only losing a pair of three games to two matches to CASS.
Now advancing to and hosting the Western Ontario Secondary Schools Athletic Association (WOSSAA) tournament on February 20th, to think the Beavers were without a key position at season's start.
"We didn't have any setters at the beginning of the year," Dalke explained. "Our two setters (Grace McLean, Olivia Burberry) are in Grade nine and they did a really good job adjusting. They like to hit, but they still volunteered to be setters for the sake of team. That was a really important part of our success. They stepped up to take on that role and not complain about it."
Dorchester will face London Monseigneur Bruyere in a WOSSAA semifinal.
"I think we're right in the mix. It'll be tougher, but I think we have the guns that can run with them," Dalke said. "Hopefully we get some support without getting nerves about it and play in the court we know."
The Huron-Perth top team will take on the TVRA Central Division top rep in the other semifinal.
Central Elgin finishes as TVRA 1A finalist, following an 8-0 match record that topped the South Division. The Titans brushed aside the host school in the semifinals, 25-9, 25-18, 25-18.
"Not our best match but a good season overall. We have stuff we can build on. We're a good all around team," Titans' coach Ezra Nicholson said.
"They (LDSS) served well and played really good defence. Our strength is our attacking but we struggled to get the ball to our hitters with their tough serving. We struggled to generate our offence and when we did, things went well for us, but we didn't do it consistency enough. They also went on bigger runs than we did."
WCI beats WESS for senior gold
The class of the East Division all season, the Woodstock CI Red Devils steamed through the senior TVRA 1A playoffs, capping it with a three games to none sweep of the West Elgin Wildcats in the final, 25-13, 25-8, 25-16.
The Wildcats went 6-4 in the South Division, before eliminating the Voaden Vikings and Dorchester Beavers, during their playoff run.
"We played well. Our goal was to finish first in single A in the South, win our semifinal and then see what happens in the final. We had never seen Woodstock but we knew they were really good," Wildcats' coach Dave Burke said. "We didn't have the same level as experience as they have, so we knew we'd be in tough. We wanted to play a good match and not give up. Our girls did some good things. We got some kills and we got some blocks against them."
Burke feels WCI has the weapons to win WOSSAA (at LDSS, February 20th).
"They can hit anywhere. Their offence was so varied and they served tough. They're a good team. I think they're the favourites to go to OFSAA."
WCI won the East division with a 10-0 match record (30-1), with only Ingersoll managing to win a game against them.