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It's a volleyball three-peat for GCVI senior girls (15 photos)

While John F. Ross Royals capture the junior District 10 crown

If there was a perfect alignment of the stars over Guelph Thursday night, the Guelph CVI Green Gaels senior girls’ volleyball team would be the reason for it happening.

The Gaels claimed their improbable third consecutive District 10 high school senior girls’ volleyball title with a 3-0 sweep of the Bishop Macdonell Celtics at the Guelph Gryphons Athletic Centre.

GCVI won three of its final four regular-season matches to reach the .500 mark in the regular season, finishing fifth at 7-7. They then knocked off the fourth-place St. James Lions in the quarter-finals and the first-place Ross Royals in the semifinals to get their berth in the final against second-place Bishop Mac. The Celtics had finished their regular season with a 3-2 edging of the Gaels.

“The girls worked hard,” GCVI coach Scott Heasman said. “We played everybody at the beginning of the year and to be honest at the beginning of the year losing our six starters, we just started with no expectations. We knew we had a few good players, but it would take lots of work. I told the girls that if the stars aligned, it’s a possibility. We’re not going to rule anything out, it’s always a possibility. Apparently the stars aligned.

The Gaels had a dominant 25-10 win in the opening set before following that with a pair of 25-22 wins to take GCVI’s 11th title in the history of the senior league.

“The key this year was just the girls really working hard and the girls knowing that if they came together and that if they played as a team, then good things can happen,” Heasman said. “Once you have confidence and you stay on a roll, things like this transpire.”

Volleyball is very much a momentum game with the team that manages to keep it the most coming out on top the majority of the time. This season and especially in the 2020 portion of the season, the Gaels kept that momentum from match to match.

GCVI advances to next Thursday’s CWOSSA AAA senior girls’ championship tournament. Pool play is to be held at both the University of Waterloo or Forest Heights CI in Kitchener while the final is to go at Forest Heights.

“We don’t know much. We played Forest Heights (of Kitchener) the last two years so we know they’ll be strong,” Heasman said of possible CWOSSA opponents. “The teams are always strong so we’ll see what happens.”

Given that GCVI’s six starters have all moved on, any experience gained at the regional tournament last year might not count for much this year.

“When you go there, it’s just about playing,” Heasman said. “Those other teams are strong so we’ll go just like every other year and hopefully we can make some noise and from there we’ll see what happens. No expectations, just like our whole season.”

Despite dropping the final, Bishop Mac’s season isn’t over as the Celtics are to play in the CWOSSA AA tournament next week at Palmerston’s Norwell District Secondary School. Pool play and the semifinals are set for Wednesday and the final is slated for Friday afternoon.

Thursday, the Ross Royals kept GCVI from sweeping championship night as the Royals swept the Gaels 3-0 in the junior final to complete an unbeaten march through the D10 season.

“This has been a really strong group the whole year,” Ross coach Christine Frielink said. “We were gifted with a talented group of club players and they know when it’s tough they’ve been able to come back. They keep their composure and they did that in the first set. After that it was over.”

The Royals won the marathon first set 30-28 before taking the other two sets by 25-16 and 25-11 scores. Ross dropped four sets in their 17-game run through the season.

“We lost one full game to a senior team in a senior tournament,” Frielink said. “That’s our only loss this year. They’re amazing.”

However, the season almost never happened for the Royals as they didn’t have a coach until just before the start of the season when Frielink and Rod Evans took on the task after they were approached by the girls.

Ross is also on to next week’s CWOSSA AAA tournament at Kitchener and Waterloo.

The loss brought GCVI’s season to the end. The third-place St. James Lions are to be District 10’s representative at the CWOSSA AA tournament Thursday and Friday at Mount Forest’s Wellington Heights Secondary School.