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Northern Chill Volleyball Club
Monday, Oct. 22, 2018
Smith and Johnson lead Vikes over Knights
by Randy Pascal

With the Lo-Ellen Park Knights looming close to mounting a serious challenge, Lockerby Vikings' setter Brooke Smith knew just where to turn.

"I go by a saying, "if you're down by four, you've got to score" - that's a little thing I have," said the 17 year old grade 12 senior following a four set win over the Knights last week. "Lexi (Johnson) was getting it, so we just keep feeding her, or anyone, whoever is hitting."

"If they're not being stopped, there's no reason to stop setting them. If they're on fire, then just go for it." In this particular case, Johnson hammered three or four balls in rapid succession to the floor, allowing the Vikings to pull away with a 25-16, 25-12, 22-25, 25-20 win.

A somewhat undersized team to begin with, Lo-Ellen had truthfully no really good answer to the 6'2" hard-hitting Lockerby right side attacker, as Johnson drilled balls both cross-court and down the line in the critical fourth set.

With Taylor Wilkinson the only key graduate from a Vikings' team which made a return trip to OFSAA last March, expectations are running high for coach Stephen Beausoleil and his crew.

"We're trying to pick up from last year, really work on our offense, and our defense, trying to get new girls into the systems that we've been working on, especially those of us who have been playing together for the last three years," said Smith. "We need to get them into that so that we can all be on the same page."

"We've started to run some faster offenses, so these girls need to get a little bit faster, and that comes with time." Led by a veteran troika that includes Smith, Johnson and well as left-side Kayla Murray, the Lockerby girls were coming off a tournament championship at the Lasalle Invitational, improving their league record to 2-0 with their win over Lo-Ellen.

"We played good over the weekend, we kept our play up pretty well," said Smith. "We had some really long breaks, so you have to really motivate yourself after you've been off for a few hours, but I thought we did really well."

Benefitting both from her high school experience and several years spent with the Northern Chill Volleyball Club, Smith has reached a point where the knack of knowing when to look for familiar faces is now somewhat intrinsic.

"A lot depends on the pass," she noted. "If the pass is kind of off, I know I need to go to my stronger hitters, because I'm running and they need to be able to adjust to that. Sometimes the newer girls need a more perfect ball. That's how I make my decisions."

Both Lockerby and Lo-Ellen are back in action this weekend, part of the 12 team senior field taking part in the St Charles College Cardinal Classic. A solid local contingent are joined by Englehart, Algonquin (North Bay) and Superior Heights from Sault Ste Marie.

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