Algonquin Thunder’s women’s volleyball team lost both matches at the Ontario Colleges Athletic Association Championship held at Canadore College, in North Bay, last weekend.
This was the first provincial tournament for all of the players on Algonquin’s team.
The Thunder lost to Humber College on Thursday in the first three sets, and faced a similar fate against Canadore College on Friday, who they played against in the consolation match.
The team arrived – groggy and hungry – in North Bay on Wednesday night after a five and a half hour drive straight to practice. Humber was in the gym before them, dressed in eccentric clothing, as per tradition.
“This would be what, their ninth year in a row?” said assistant coach Gosia Lewis.
“Yea. There’s only one team that’s going to stop them though. We just have to show up and do work.” said Everton Senior, the head coach.
Algonquin had won its last two qualifying games against La Cité and Redeemer, and the team was confident as it arrived at the Canadore campus for its first match against Humber on Thursday night, blasting “Lip Gloss” by Lil Mama from portable speakers on their way to the gym.
The Humber Hawks started with a 7-3 lead early in the first set, but the Thunder fiercely retaliated to tie the game up 10-10. They only managed to score four more points before the Hawks took the set 25-14.
In the second set, Humber scored the first three points. And just as in the previous set, Algonquin woke up and had the game tied at 4-4. Again, that didn’t last long.
“Just play the game. Forget who they are and where you are,” said Senior to the team as they huddled during a time out. “Just keep pushing.”
The Thunder had good rallies and the league’s number one blocker, captain Julianna Tebrake, played excellent defence. But the Hawks’ aggressive offence kept pressing on the Thunder, and their defence wasn’t enough to stop Humber from taking the set 25-15.
In the third set, outside hitter Serah Rounds-Zavitz was hit in the face by a kill accounting for the only injury of the game.
Humber had established an early lead of 18-8 with back to back aces and won the final set 25-15.
First-year player Brianne Sheerhoorn was named the most valuable player of the game.
“We played really good defence which is what we needed to do,” said Tebrake. “It was unfortunate that it wasn’t good enough to win. But I think overall we did really well. We played well as a team.”
Humber was playing for their ninth consecutive OCAA Championship after an undefeated season. They won gold versus Niagara College with a near perfect score at the tournament, losing only one set – to Fanshawe – the entire weekend.
After that first game, the team’s assurance suffered.
“You know right away how the game is going to go by the girls’ attitude,” said Vanessa Harrington, the team’s sport therapist, shaking her head. “They really rely on each other for moral support and when some of the girls are feeling down, the whole team feels it.”
On the second day of the tournament, the Thunder faced off against the Canadore Panthers.
The team’s spirits were lifted when more of their family members, friends and significant others showed up to cheer and show their support for the girls on their final game.
The first set was a give and take between the two teams for a while, but Canadore came out on top, winning the set 25-17.
The Thunder was shaken up after the first set and lost the second with 13 points on the scoreboard.
In the third set, the Thunder were focused and fought as hard as they could, giving Canadore a scare and a very close game. Near the end of the game they had a 24-22 lead on the Canadore Panthers.
Canadore tied up the game and went on to take the set 27-25, winning the game.
The most valuable player of the game was awarded to outside hitter and middle Victoria Waizmann, who pushed through illness for her team.
The outcome of the tournament was disappointing, but the Thunder gave it all they had and took a lot away from the experience.
“Over the last few weeks our communication has been really good, so it was kind of upsetting that it wasn’t as good. But that being said, we played to the best of our abilities,” said Tebrake after the game. “We got our goal, we got there.”