HHSS Red Hawks spike down first place at Kawartha qualifier
by Darren Lum
Published Feb. 13, 2018
A dominant performance at the Kawartha playoff qualifier on Tuesday, Feb. 8 by the Red Hawks senior girls’ volleyball team was nearly undone by an unorthodox offence executed by the Brock Bulldogs, said Hawks coach Dan Gimon.
With a pair of 2-0 shutouts of Port Hope (25-6 and 25-8) and Norwood (25-7 and 25-14), the Hawks were cruising through the qualifier, as these teams could not sustain a consistent return of serve.
Even with all the momentum, the Hawks faced their greatest challenge against the Bulldogs of Brock High School, qualifier tournament hosts.
They not only possessed two “tough servers,” a capable hitter and relentless pursuit to keep balls alive, digging up balls to prolong plays, but also returned serve on the first or second touch.
It caught the Hawks off guard, said Gimon.
“It’s an unorthodox way to play the game. The way we teach our girls is to try and use three hits to set up an effective attack,” he wrote in an email. “The girls got a little rattled, missed some serves, missed some passes, as well as some much needed attacks, but were starting to adjust their defence to the ‘garbage balls,’ as I called them. They levelled out and the set went back and forth but they couldn’t pull it off and lost 25-21. Even though they lost, they felt better than at the beginning because of the adjustments that they were starting to make.”
Gimon said his team rebounded in the second set, which was started by his veteran senior player Abby Gordon, who completed five strong serves for a 5-0 lead.
Intensity and strong defence were pivotal.
“The girls were intense and with the determined defensive play of our Libero, Emma Scheffee (another of last year’s players), [we] were able to read Brock’s offence and continued a steady climb, winning 25-11,” he wrote.
The Hawks started the third set slowly and left Gimon a little nervous.
“After scoring a point we missed a serve and got behind 5-1. Third set only goes to 15 so, honestly, I was starting to get worried about our season coming to an end because traditionally this season we’ve had some difficulty coming back from a deficit,” he wrote. “Brock missed a serve and Abby Gordon came up again and was able to get us back to a 5-5 tie. We went back and forth again but with us getting two points for every one of theirs and we eventually came out on top 15-11. It was stressful but obviously rewarding in the end.”
Haliburton closed out the tournament by beating the Titans of St. Thomas Aquinas 2-0 (25-19 and 25-20), which was the other team to earn a berth to Kawartha.
Gimon said winning the qualifying tournament has provided his team a huge confidence boost along with an easier draw in the Kawartha championship playoffs this week.
It was satisfying for the coach, who has believed his team was better than the results they’ve posted to this point in the season.
“I’ve been somewhat upset with previous results because I could see the potential that they have that wasn’t being realized,” he wrote. “They now see that I wasn’t just talking through my hat and trying to fool them into playing better. They’ve experienced it first-hand and now know the level that they are capable of playing at. In previous tournaments they’ve played against the AA and AAA schools, and were not getting blown out but, like I said earlier, had a hard time coming back. I think that now they see that they should be able to stay closer with and even beat them.”
Junior Hawks match seniors’ result
Down in Campbellford last week, the junior volleyball team showed the quality of the school’s program by taking top spot at the Kawartha qualifier by beating Port Hope High School (25-12 and 25-19) and then beating Norwood District High School (25-14 and 25-22).
Coach Steve Smith was happy for his team and said they were “extremely excited, but never really doubted their skill level.”
He adds they exhibited great resilience in the win.
“Even when things got tight or they might lose a point they would dig deep and perform like they knew they could. I couldn’t be prouder of the girls’ achievements so far,” he said.
Earning the top seed at the Kawartha championship, which is held this week at Fenelon Falls Secondary School, assures the Hawks of a berth at COSSA.