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Club News Story

Provincial Championships; take 2.

2016 / 04 / 11

Let’s begin with the 14u boys division as they are the juniors on the weekend. As defending Ontario Champions our hopes were high with this group and they did not disappoint. The Club was represented by both the Bandits of coach Paul Gratton and the Renegades lead by Sylvain Ducharme.

The Renegades were seeded 14th and as such had a tough opening day schedule, both Oxford Crush (6) and Niagara Rapids (3) got the better of our boys but they bounced back and took the final match of the day with a win over Oakville Thunder (11) to keep their Tier one hopes alive. Day two would be the reciprocal in results with opening round wins over Phoenix Firestorm (18) and Kingston VC (19) they then dropped the last in straightsets to our rival from London the Forest City Green (10) team. This 2-1 record in the day pool was enough to keep the dream alive. To move into top 8 territory they would have to negotiate those Rapids a little stronger this time. The ‘gades burst out in full fury with a 25-20 win but then ran aground in the next two and had to settle for an official T-9 standing. Great work coach D and all the young Mavericks.

The Bandits came in to the draw with a #2 seed bulls-eye on their backs and as such everyone was gunning for them. Coach Gratton was fully aware of the importance of a first day performance setting the table and guided the team to a perfect day with wins over #15 MAC, #10 Forrest City and a tight one over #7 Sky Volley. Holding their seed meant avoiding early conflict on day 2. As Saturday morning unfolded it was more of the same as the Bandits made off with wins over Leaside (9) and Georgetown (4) but were foiled by the same Oxford Crush (8) team that took down the Renegades a day earlier. Still the setback kept the Bandits on the opposite side of the draw from Pakmen and the coaches went to work. Day 3 in this tournament could be a 4 match day and the entire team would have to step up with their A games. The Bandits made quick work of both Thunder and Rapids to settle the score for Friday and then survived a great battle over the Leaside team that one match earlier ended the Renegades season. The finals were next and the much anticipated match up with PakMen. These two teams have battled for the past two seasons and sadly for our guys the Mississauga group had the right stuff this time and swept the Bandits in 2. A silver medal is never a happy memory when it is being hung around your neck but in retrospect there are good things that come with it. 31 teams would trade places with you in a heartbeat and the fire inside gets stoked a little hotter for the next encounter. Next time it will be on Home Court at Carleton University and the National Championship will be on the line.

Moving up to the 17u boys we see the other side of what had to be our brightest coin this season. The Rangers were coming off a Grand-prix win in March and looked for the same here in Waterloo. Banged up and suffering a little the Rangers made their mark on day one as well.  This tournament was up for grabs as any one of 5 teams had an excellent chance for the win. Bruce Dunning and the Rangers were starting the weekend seeded 4th and despite the previous win needed to be all in for this to work out in their favour. Day one went as scripted with wins over #21 Guelph, #16 Pegass (which I assume was actually Pegasus  ;-) ) and a final round over Niagara. Not a set dropped and the next day was supposed to be as planned. However the #1 seeded Lakeside exposed some weaknesses and did not hold their pool so our boys faced a tough Saturday. An opening round Gross defeat of the Barrie (11) in straight sets meant a top 12 finish was in the books and Tier 1 Nationals booked. Subsequently the next two were the low points of the weekend. #1 seed Lakeside found their game and swept the Rangers while the #3 seed Titans would go three sets in a win over our guys. Sunday was set as with the 14u group this was to be a 4 match day. Up first were the Rapids again and the Rangers suffered no ill effects from the previous day winning in straights sets again. The same result ensued when the Rangers were up against the #8 seed hometown Predators. Now the true test, those Titans of Scarborough. This has been a three season war between these teams who are no stranger to one another. To our dismay the Titans were victorious in 3 once again. The Rangers now had to regroup to repeat as Bronze medalists in their age group. The opponent would be a first time encounter at OC’s with the #5 seed Storm Thunder team from Aurora. Here the guys here once again pushed to the brink but this time held their own and return home with the medal. A tournament marred by losses only to the #1 and 3 seeds tells me that we are in striking distance and if everyone gets healthy May 15th in Saskatoon where in the words of Burton Cummings, we may be singing another prairie tune.

Now over to that massive 4 division 15u girls draw. Our colours were represented with 4 teams in the top three Divisions. Div one saw both our HP teams the Ambush and Stampede heading up their respective day one pools with the #17 and 19 seeds each.

The Ambush have been flirting with greatness all season and Coach John Nguyen hoped this would be their moment in the sun. As the #17 seed they had two first day results that would keep their hopes alive for T1 Nationals. A pool win would be the best of course and the girls went right to work for the coach. Defeating the 14U Quest (who just won the 14U OCs bronze medal the weekend before) group from Scarborough in what looks online like 8 straight sets, they moved on to the local Predators Black team for more one sided victories. With their final opponent was another team that was seeded 25th but like our Ambush would finish in the top 8 the Pakmen. The match was a tight affair between arguably the two biggest and most physical teams at the tournament. In the end the Pakmen won by scores of 25-20 and 26-24.

Saturday morning would bring on the higher seeded Predator Purple (#13 ranke ) team which we dispatched decisively leading into and even more lopsided win over London Fire Intensity (#8 ranked). The final match was now against a 14u team sporting the Pakmen brand. Having already clinched the day two power pool (perhaps Coach Nguyen should have told the parents who where sweating in the stands), the Ambush pushed through but lost a tight 3 set match to the winless Pakmen 14U team.

Day three dawned and for the coach match #1 was the single most important of the day, a win would punch their ticket for Div 1 Nationals in May. Their opponent was a familiar one as the Forest City (9th ranked coming in but they "stole" the top seed for the tournament having won their day 1 pool) group travelled to Ottawa during the break to train with the Ambush. This familiarity backfired on us last season at 18u Nationals and he knew they had to perform to handle this team. A tough battle ensued but the Ambush prevailed and a huge hurdle for coach Nguyen was clear. Now the whole problem with climbing the ladder this way is that sooner or later you run into a major impasse, now into the top 8 and quarter finals this obstacle would take the form of the #1 seeded Leaside Lightning Red team. Eager to prove their journey was no fluke the Ambush express pushed the top seed to three sets only to fall in the end. Still a great omen for May 12th weekend back in the “‘K-Dub”. T1D1 ‘nuf said!

Day one for the Stampede was a harsh dose of reality check where the girls fell out of contention with losses to Markham Unity (30), DRVC (27) and a surprising South County Teal (22) who would advance all the way to the top 8 eventually. Day 2 was a respite for coach Chico Tanguay with wins over Titans Quest (32) and Sudbury Chill (31) but fell in straight sets to Guelph (29). Day three meant Division 2 and a disheartened group would not respond losing to the Predators in straight sets to end their weekend. I am sure the next trip to Waterloo in May for Nationals will bring about better memories for all. Keep working girls there is lots of highway ahead of you.

In Division 2 the Trailblazers were in the top half of the draw with the #16 seed. A tough vantage point but one that had it’s upside. Move up one place and a top 16 become more doable. Opening matches with #1 Galaxy and #8 Defensa left Coach Rose Bergeron looking to their final match-up to slide up a rung. The #9 MVC Black team from Hamilton were no slouches but the ‘Blazers rose to the occasion and stole this seed with a 2-1 win. Now still in the top 16 of the draw one more win on day two would keep them in the hunt. Saturday however would be black for these girls and an 0-3 performance meant a slip from that tenuous 16 seed perch they began with. An opening Sunday win over Northumberland (25) was a good sign but the next match–up would be vs #17 Markham and as you could imagine this match would be a toss up. Unfortunately the coin fell in Markham’s favour and our band of girls had to head home, once again to set their sights on a return in May.

Finally in Div three rookie Coach Andrei Mant was getting his first taste of RIM park with the Scouts who narrowly missed out on Div 2 and came into this division seeded 2nd. The scouts were unable to hold that seed on Friday winning over #23 Vikings and #11 Forest City but falling to the #14 Titans Infinity. Saturdays re-pool was a repeat in results with victories over #9 Thundercats and #1 Predators Invasion 14u but again a slight slip against the #15 Guardians of the Galaxy brand. Very much in the hunt for hardware the Scouts dispatched the #4 seeded Georgian Cubs in the ¼’s only to fall to Rapids Blue (7) in the semis. Able to regroup the girls took home the bronze with a 3 set thriller over the hugely surprising #21 seeded Waterdown Raiders.

Weekend #2 is in the books and three medals are on the shelf. Great work coaches and teams look forward to being there in May.

“ Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm. ”
– Ralph Waldo Emmerson