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Friday, May. 24, 2019
SDSSAA banners doled out a plenty on Tuesday
by Randy Pascal

The original game plan was great.

Volleyball finals all day Friday at Collège Boréal, followed by a three game slate of boys basketball championship encounters Saturday afternoon at Lasalle Secondary, with plenty of time to devote to each sport separately.

And then came snow day number one hundred and seventy-teen this winter. Well, OK, a slight exaggeration perhaps, but a pair of snow days last week essentially put a kibosh on these best laid plans.

Instead, crammed into roughly a five hour slot at three different venues were a full slate of SDSSAA banners to be awarded on Tuesday. It certainly made for a very exciting few hours.

Collège Notre-Dame was the host school as the senior Alouettes targetted a first ever city title in Division “A” girls volleyball. Despite taking to the court with a relatively young squad, coach Denny Chicoine and the CND crew made it look easy, sweeping aside the Lo-Ellen Park Knights 25-18, 25-18, 25-17.

Nowhere has youth been served moreso than at the position of setter, where Northern Chill Volleyball Club veteran Haven Fournier, a very accomplished left side hitter, took on the challenge of being the on-court general for the Notre-Dame side, despite not having yet completed her freshman season of high-school volleyball.

“When Denny told me that I was going to be setting this year, I was legit a ball of stress,” said the gifted grade nine talent. “I was just so nervous about putting the ball where it's supposed to be, knowing who I should set at what part of the game. It's such a technical position.”

Looking ahead, however, Fournier is quick to note the many positives that have come from expanding her horizons, even as it relates to the learned lessons that she can bring back to her normal position. “I think that just appreciating your setter,” she said with a laugh. “When I'm playing left side for club, I realize now that each set can't be perfect, each set can't be right where you want it, every single time.”

Thankfully, for Fournier, her adjustment has been in-sport. For middle Hannah Nordquist of the city champion Lo-Ellen Park Knights' juniors, the transition has come from shifting over from years of competitive swim background to a new court passion this winter.

“I think I just needed something new, something to change it up a little,” said Nordquist, shortly after she and her teammates stopped the Lasalle Lancers 25-18, 25-16, 25-17 in the middle affair at CND. “It's a team sport, so that's very different.”

“It's just as competitive, so swimming helped me a lot in that sense, just getting my mind in the zone and ready. The swinging (in volleyball) is quite similar to some of the strokes I would do in the pool, and I've built up a lot of strength over the years, and that's kind of carried over to volleyball.”

As for her team and the city banner that they captured, Nordquist noted that a quick start was crucial, albeit somewhat out of character. “We knew that we needed to come out strong, because that's kind of been our weak point, where we don't start playing our best until later in the game.”

The junior encounter turned out to be a little retribution for the Knights, after the Lasalle Secondary midget crew disposed of the Lo-Ellen niners 25-22, 25-21, 25-14 to start the day's festivities.

Over at Lasalle, you can make it three straight banner-winning years for the senior Lancers and six of the past eight, as the homeside withstood an early second half run by the Lo-Ellen Park Knights, pulling away for a 68-50 triumph.

Up by eight at the half, the Lancers might have been caught somewhat off-guard as the Knights charged out of the gate in quarter three, pulling ahead 33-32, only to see the Sudbury juggernaut respond with a 15-2 run to close out the period.

The winners were led by an impressive 32-point performance from Brennan LaPierre, with Michael Babcock adding 14 points of his own. “I was hitting my shots and my teammates were finding me early,” said LaPierre. “That was the biggest thing, especially in a zone, when we are moving the ball to shift the zone and get me open shots. I was making those three's today.”

Meanwhile, the junior Knights rode a 20-0 first quarter assault and cruised to a 54-37 win over the Notre-Dame Alouettes, as Ethan Scott (14), Thomas Asselin (10) and Charlie Hennessey (8) spearheaded the Lo-Ellen attack.

“We have a really good coach (Mike Clarke), the same coach from last year, so he was able to work with a lot of the players we had on our junior team last year,” said returnee Jack Sheehan. “He told us never to underestimate our opponents, go into each game like it's the hardest game we're going to play in the season.”

“He told us there were three main things that he wanted us to make sure that we did: rebounding, making sure we don't do turnovers, and play good defence.” That's a recipe for success that will typically work for most basketball teams, including the Notre-Dame Alouettes midgets, who opened the evening troika with a 65-46 win over the Lasalle Lancers in their gold medal tilt.

Zacharie Demers (21), Jean Kessie (13), Pierson Sobush (11) and Nico Simon (11) were the key contributors offensively, while Hayden Radey did most of the damage for Lasalle, accounting for more than a third of their total with a 16-point outing.

“When we had tryouts, I knew that we had a pretty good team,” conceded Demers, who came to CND following his graduation from École St Pierre. “We worked a lot on our press, and a lot of layups, obviously, because when you get those open looks, you've got to make them.”

Of course, it also doesn't hurt when you're pitching a shutout defensively through the opening eight minutes of play. The Alouettes were nothing if not absolutely tenacious on their press. “We try and make sure their players go to the baseline, so we can trap there, and if they reverse it, usually they are stuck there and it's eight seconds (violation), or it's a turnover when they try and do a long pass.”

The real drama, however, came courtesy of the Division II crew at St Benedict Catholic Secondary School, as the Chelmsford Flyers junior girls volleyball team rallied from a 2-0 deficit to toppled the Sacre-Coeur Griffons 6-25, 19-25, 25-17, 25-18 and 15-12.

The Chelmsford championship team included Melody Knight, Skyler Dale, Bryanna Allair, Ellis Albrecht, Elizabeth Pratt, Chelsea Krauss, Madison Mainville, Lacey Hein, Emma Brenton-Levesque, Hannah Asiala, Madie Beer, head coach Sarah Jokinen and assistant coach Glenn Murray.

Most of the teams noted above now move on to NOSSA championships this coming weekend, though thankfully, they are not scheduled all to into a tightly jammed stretch of a half day or so.

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