Lasalle volleyball right in the mix in Brockville
by Randy Pascal
The Lasalle Lancers senior boys volleyball team are hoping their steady progression continues.
Making a third straight appearance at the OFSAA "AA" Boys Volleyball Championships, the Lancers have worked their way up from 11th seed (2015) to
5th seed (2016) and now find themselves sloted in the number four placement in Brockville.
"It's pretty much what we expected," noted Lasalle head coach Scott Thomas. "Since the start of the year, with our early tournaments, we played
some pretty tough teams and competed with most of them."
"I don't know exactly how the rankings work, but I think teams are starting to see that we do have a solid program. And with the juniors winning year
after year, people know we are getting solid players moving up every season."
Seventeen year old Nathan Scully is among a core group of players who are now in their second year at the senior level, leaving behind a
succession plan of volleyball success at the junior ranks.
"We love playing together, we love travelling together," he said. "We're friends on and off the court. We don't communicate as much as we want to. We're
quiet on the court, and then off the court, we're really loud."
The topic has been one of the very few areas where Thomas finds fault with his troops. "Communication has been something this group has struggled with
since grade nine," said Thomas. "They don't like to talk, they don't like to call the ball."
"We knew we had a lot of offense, we knew we could defend well enough. Ultimately, it was getting the little things right." While those mistakes might
not have proven costly in a SDSSAA loop in which the Lancers did not drop a single set all year, they could be critical when facing the "AA" provincial
elite troika of the Stratford Central Rams, Franco-Cité Faucons (Ottawa) and Eden High School Flyers (St Catharines).
"We know more about the competition this year, we've been in bigger tournaments this year, we've seen the top three teams already and have played two
of them," said Scully. The Lancers open play on Thursday against the Renaissance Jags from Timmins (17th seed), Birchmount Park Panthers from
Toronto (13th seed) and host St Mary Crusaders from Brockville (7th seed).
On Friday, Lasalle will close out against the Francis Libermann Falcons from Scarborough (10th seed), needing to secure a top two placement in
their bracket in order to advance to championship playoff play later that afternoon.
With clear sailing for much of the year on a local front, Thomas and company know they will need to rely upon the experience garnered at tournament play,
as well as a solid test last weekend in the form of the Widdifield Wildcats from North Bay.
"The way the team battled back in situations at NOSSA was encouraging," said Thomas. "They were down in the first three matches, and we were able to
rally back and either get back to a tie, or win. Seeing them fight back, regardless of the scenario, the fact that they don't give up, they just keep going,
bodes well for OFSAA."
The 2017 Lancers encompass Cameron Alisappi, Tyrus Cuculick, Kurtis Terris, Ben Doucette, Julien Groulx, Aiden Lewis, Nathan Scully, Carter
Wachnuk, Jason Diotte, Jesse Chisholm and setter Michael Babcock.
Also representing NOSSA in boys volleyball action this week are the Manitoulin Mustangs (Toronto - OFSAA "A") and the Chippewa Raiders
from North Bay (Waterloo - OFSAA "AAA").