By Larry Moko
In celebration of their senior girls’ high school volleyball victory Tuesday, coach Sean Gibson of the St. Thomas More Knights brought a large box of cupcakes to the players’ bench.
When the container was opened, the players saw the treats along with three large words hand printed underneath the lid – ‘Support’, ‘Trust’ and ‘Mindfulness’.
“We tried to find something that aligned with St. Thomas More,” Gibson said when asked about the meaning of the message. “You’re going to SUPPORT each other, TRUST that everybody is going to do what they need to do and be MINDFUL of what’s happening on the court.”
By way of their 2-1 win over the visiting Bishop Ryan Celtics (7-4), the Knights remained in sole possession of first place in the Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic standings with a 9-2 record.
“This is what first place tastes like – sweet,” Gibson said. “A part of what we want to do as a coaching staff is help galvanize the team and create a culture of winning for the next few years.”
The Celtics got off to a fast start, breezing to a 25-12 decision in the first set. The Knights then took the second set, 28-26, when Trudi Vaughan’s serve glanced off the top of the net and dropped over for the deciding point.
In the final set, More could do little wrong, winning 25-9.
Back-to-back aces by Isabella Knezevic in the second set gave Bishop Ryan a 10-5 lead. Said Vaughan: “Definitely about half way through the second set there was a turning point. We went on a few-point run then it was our energy from there. We didn’t get down on ourselves.
Volleyball is a constant game of changes.”
Bishop Ryan coach Julie Kersley said her team was still playing well defensively in the second set but it began to make too many unforced errors.
“We started playing the ball into the net and missing our serves,” she said. “Our offence just wasn’t as strong as it was in the first set.”
Vaughan, incidentally, was a member of More’s OFSAA gold- medal winning basketball team a few months ago and she has committed to play university basketball for the Carleton Ravens next season.
“I prefer basketball,” Vaughan said. “It’s definitely my first love. I’ve been playing since I was 6. But I’ve played four years of St. Thomas More volleyball (midget, junior and two at senior).”
Vaughan is a team captain in volleyball.
“She’s awesome,” Gibson said. “She’s a good leader, pushing the girls in the right direction.”
Heading into the final three games before the playoffs, Brebeuf is in second place (8-3). Then comes Bishop Ryan (7-4), St. Mary (7-4), ACMT (6-5), St. John Henry Newman (6-5), Bishop Tonnos (1-10), and Cathedral (0-11).
“Anyone could take it this year,” Kersley said. “We’ve been up and down in the standings all season.”
Source: Marnie Jardon