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Valley girls volleyball rivalry adds another chapter
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The Confederation Chargers - Horizon Aigles girls volleyball rivalry has been among the best in the city in recent years, with another new chapter added to the lore this past Friday at Laurentian University.

The junior Chargers needed the full five sets, down 2-1 after three before rallying to knock off the Aigles, 19-25, 25-23, 24-26, 25-17, 15-13.

“Our serve receive and passing had to be good,” noted outside hitter Avery Gauvreau, likely the most effective scorer on a squad that included just three grade ten returnees.

“They have really strong hitters and some good blockers on their team. I just kept looking for the spots that were open and tried hitting around the blocks – but that’s usually pretty hard.”

One of several first year high-schoolers thrust into big roles on the team, setter Malin Brunette was spot on at several critical junctures of the match. “She is really good at taking feedback,” noted Gauvreau.

And when she needed to be bailed out every so slightly, the 16 year-old middle child in a highly athletic family was most often there to help.

“Usually if the set is a little bit tighter to the net, then I know I’ve got to tip it or push it somewhere where they are not,” said Gauvreau. That kind of court awareness was a big part of the messaging from coach Craig Thompson with his team trailing two sets to one early on.

“I told them to trust their training – their technique would push them through,” said the long-time volleyball mentor. “We picked up some of their game and adjusted our defense a little bit.”

The gold medal winning Confederation team also features Harlym Triff, Ava McLinton, Alexia Savoie, Kaylee Baillargeon, Mara Kahl, Aliya Heinrichs, Lex O'Dell, Elizabeth Lynds and assistant coaches Rachel Brown and Sydney Jokinen.

The Horizon Aigles were not about to go home empty-handed, however, as their senior squad completed a 25-18, 26-24, 25-12 sweep over the Champlain Requins, a result that was probably a little bit more special for one particular member of the winning side.

“Yeah, it’s kind of competitive,” said 16 year-old Emma Perreault with a huge smile, her father (Guy) coaching the Champlain seniors after spending several years at Horizon with her older brothers, Noah and Kyle. “I want to win against him. I don’t want to go home and let him make fun of me.”

With Kyle part of a Cambrian team that advanced to the OCAA Final Four over the weekend, fair to say that there is likely plenty of light-hearted volleyball banter around the Perreault dinner table these days.

For one of the younger players on the gold medal winning team, that would mean gradually becoming acclimatized to hitting the court with schoolmates who are a year or two older, knowing that you belong.

"It's kind of scary playing with older kids who have been playing longer than you and have known each other for longer," said Perreault. "You don't know them as much as they know each other - but they are so inclusive and welcoming."

With her team comfortably ahead in the third set, Perreault let loose with some bullet-like serves, all part of a team approach that favours aggressive serving - even if her technique differs from most of her teammates.

"It's just kind of something that we know how to do," she said. "And our coach is good at letting us do what we want to do (in terms of serving). He lets us be free with it."

"For mine, it's a standing serve, so you have to toss it a little more in front of you - and lower," explained Perreault. "You have to hit it at perfect timing, at 90 degrees."

Joining Perreault on the 2023-2024 Horizon squad were Manon Charbonneau, Shae St Onge, Selena Sauvé, Hannah Kirwan, Fannie Gauthier, Emily Winsor, Brooke Dugas, Jasmine Mills, Camille Barr, Kayley Lemaire, head coach Patrick Gervais and assistant coach Lynn Mageau-Gauthier.

And finally, closing off the parade of banner winners were the Collège Notre-Dame Alouettes novice girls, a team that looks to be ready to add yet another contender to the junior mix next year after over-powering Horizon 25-8, 25-15, 25-17 Friday morning.

The CND roster gathers together co-captains Keylee Laurin and Adria Montpellier as well as Elizabeth Meilleur, Bianca D'Aoust, Coralie Savard, Josslyne Ouellette, Téah Luoma, Ella Besserer, Emma Fidler, Isabelle Daoust, Madison Breit, head coach Madison Boileau and assistant coach Renée Montpellier.

The Division II semi-finals are set for Tuesday evening, with championship encounters going the next evening at the home of the highest ranked surviving senior team.

Palladino Subaru