The St. Thomas Aquinas Saints Girls Volleyball team are out of the OFSAA ‘A’ Provincial Championships following a tough loss.
The host team fell 3-1 to Smithville Christian High School at the Kenora SportsPlex in the best-of-five quarterfinal match on Tuesday night.
Smithville took the first set 25-23, then the Saints came back with an exciting 25-23 to win the second. Despite a 22-25 loss in the third, Head Coach of the Saints and convener for the tournament, Megan Derouard says she was initially impressed with her team.
“After the first, second and third sets I was happy. We were playing awesome volleyball. The other coach told me, ‘that could have been a medal game’, and I agree with him,” she said.
It was the fourth, however, when the team got the better of themselves and gave Smithville the advantage where they took the set 25-17 to take the game and move on to the semi-finals.
“We beat ourselves. Out of 25 points they earned against us, we gave them 12. There were mistakes we made where they didn’t have to make a decision whether or not to play the ball and that hurts you in a championship game,” she said.
The team often offensively dumped the ball over the net, which was one of the concerns - whether or not to play a strong offense or a strong defense.
“When the game gets tough, you shy away and all you think is that if you keep the ball in play, you have a chance to play defense. In timeouts I told them they have to swing. 'Now more than ever, you have to be aggressive',” she added.
Smithville entered the tournament seeded seventh and in round-robin play they had only lost one of seven sets earning themselves first place in their pool. The Saints, however, were seeded fifth and placed themselves second in their pool after taking four of six to match up with the Southeastern team in the quarterfinals.
“Smithville is a good team. They’re strong and tall and they swing well. Unfortunately for us, if we don’t have our players playing we’re going to struggle and that was the case today,” she said.
As a Saints coach and alumni, Derouard is familiar with the quarterfinal provincial match and knows the pressures and stresses that it can bring up.
“It’s a big moment to play at home in that kind of game. I know and I don’t regret anything. They were playing for a medal game and in the three of the four sets they played, they played their hearts out and I couldn’t be more proud of them,” she said.
Regardless of the loss, Derouard is pleased with her team and the support from the City of Kenora.
“A coach wants their team to be in this championship quarter and they were here. The city has been behind them and I’m so proud of them. They will continue to hold their heads high, as they can still say they are one of the top eight teams in the province. We are beyond proud of this team and everything they have accomplished” she added.
Smithville will go on to play in the semi-final match against first seeded team ESAC Mere-Teresa Wednesday morning at 11:00am at the T.A Gym. The other semi-final match is also set for 11:00am with University of Toronto Schools (2nd) and ES Pere Rene de Galinee (6th) at the SportsPlex.
The consolation matches will see Algonquin and Timmins at the T.A gym as well as St. Mary's and Atikokan at the SportsPlex, both set for 9:00am.
The gold medal match will be played at 5:00pm at the St. Thomas Aquinas Gym.
The Saints had a great season going undefeated in league and playoffs, as well as winning three out of the five tournaments they attended and lost in the finals in the other two.