Team Ontario was in action all over North America this past weekend and the results were outstanding.
The 17 and 18Us took on some of the top competition in the world at the USA High Performance Championships in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, while the 16U Boys traveled to Gatineau, Quebec and the 16U Girls to Richmond, BC for their respective National Team Challenge Cup (NTCC) competitions.
We recap the action for all of our teams below.
16U Girls Red
Team Ontario Red finished NTCC’s with a strong 4th place result. The highlight of the tournament for Team Red was their semi-final comeback after trailing 2-0 to BC Blue. Kaylee Glacau had a strong performance with 4 kills in a row and a long serving run in the third set. Coach Lucas Hodgson had this to say about his team’s comeback:
“Our girls started getting louder and louder with our communication, which was a huge help. It allowed us to play together with more confidence”. Team Red ended up losing the fifth set 11-15 to BC Blue but the whole tournament was a great experience for all athletes on the team who learned lots each day.
16U Girls Black
The 16U Girls Black Team won the gold at the 2017 NTCC in Richmond, BC! The team delivered outstanding performances throughout the weekend to come out on top. Tough serving was a strength for this team heading into the playoff rounds and it helped them beat an aggressive BC team in 5 sets in the tournament’s semi-final. Team Black had to play the other local BC team in the final and they were able to overcome that challenge with stable first contact throughout the match. Jimmy El-Turk, Head Coach, is particularly proud of his team:
“I am honored to have had the chance to coach this group of players. The girls set their own standard of performance that Jen (assistant coach) and I held them accountable to. In tough moments, our team as a whole met and exceeded those standards, always rising to the occasion and playing our best late in sets and matches. This standard of performance was critical in our last two matches to win it all.”
16U Boys Red
Team Ontario 16U Boys Red had a great tournament and left NTCC in Gatineau with silver after a hard fought 5-set match versus a formidable and very familiar squad in Team Ontario Black. Team Red got better as the tournament went on and many of its players had breakthrough performances. A memorable moment for the players and coaches of Team Red was the match against BC Red when they lost the first set 39-37 and then came back and won the next three sets. The performance of Team Red is even more impressive when considering that many players were utilized at new positions. Nanle Yusuf played both middle and right side, Nicolas Gumienik went from middle to right side, and Andre Harricharan played libero for the first time. Head Coach Jeff Chung was particularly proud of his players ability to bond and create an unmatched team chemistry. According to him, the team spirit came when all players on the rosters were put to work during pool play and had a chance to contribute to the team’s success.
16U Boys Black
Team Ontario Black was crowned champion of the 2017 Boys NTCC. The Team won a tough 5-set match with Team Ontario red to take gold. The depth of the team was apparent on many occasions. Very different lineups would execute regardless of the numerous changes. Multiple players had key performances in each match and all players walked away with a personal highlight or two. From the group, Liam McArthur played a particularly key role in the team’s success with a total 41 kills, 8 blocks and 9 aces for a point/error ratio of +34 over the course of the tournament. A highlight for the team includes a game interruption in the semi-final against Alberta because of a knocked down light protector. The game was delayed until another court was made available. The other semi-final ended quickly so when Team Black resumed playing, they had a large crowd cheering them on. Coach Frank-St-Denis said:
“The atmosphere was electric. The boys played their best match of the tournament avenging a pool play loss to Alberta.”
Team Ontario's 17U girls were competing in the Girls International Youth division of the USA HP Championship where they played against some of the top US athletes in their age category. The team finished the tournament with a record of 5 wins and 3 losses, which put them in 9th position overall. Head coach Sean Pellow had this to say about his team:
“The girls fought hard all week and only lost matches in tough battles that could have gone either way. I had the chance to coach a tremendous group of young female athletes who wore the Team Ontario logo with pride and represented the OVA, their clubs and themselves with the greatest integrity.” Team Ontario 17U girls finished the tournament as the highest ranked Canadian team in the division.
Team Ontario 17U Boys ended a fantastic week of competition with a 3-1 win over USA Select A1 White on Saturday afternoon. The win gave the boys 11th place out of 24 teams in the Boys International Division which is for top 19U teams from all over the US, Canada, and as far away as New Zealand. Team Ontario finished the tournament 5-3 and battled hard in every match all week. The coaching staff had made spike serving and pipe offense a major focus of the 10-day pre-tournament training camp in Windsor. The boys showed amazing growth in both facets with many of the athletes using their spike serve in competition for the first time in their young careers. A notable example of the players’ growth can be found in Sauli Lianga who was promoted from an alternate to a travel player earlier this month and who contributed 23 points in the 4-set victory over GEVA USA to guarantee the team a top 12 finish. Head Coach James Gravelle spoke on behalf of the coaching staff:
“We are very proud of how Team Ontario 17U Boys grew during the month together and we are grateful for the opportunity to work with such a fine group of young men.”
The 18U Girls Team Ontario squad travelled to Fort Lauderdale to compete in the HP Championships last week in preparation for the Canada Games. The week focused around consolidating the system and skills that had been developed over the last 2 weeks of training camp, and gave the girls the opportunity to grow and learn as a team. The team made huge strides in their ability to battle under pressure, and pushed their opponents to the limits with their powerful serving, disciplined blocking, relentless attacks, and tenacious defense. The team finished 5th overall after losing the tie-breaker for 2nd place in their pool to move on to the top 4, but still ended with a 6-2 record on the week and finished the highest of all the Canadian teams that were competing. Their only losses were to the teams who eventually finished top 2 in the tournament. Overall it was an excellent experience for the team, who comes back ready to work hard and will continue to improve.
Team Ontario 18U Boys had quite the performance this past weekend at the US HP Championship in Florida and won the gold medal in the Boys International Division. To come out on top, Team Ontario had to show a lot of resiliency as they faced an American Youth National team preparing for the World Championships, as well as two very experienced California teams. The team’s goal during the competition was to learn about themselves and that’s exactly what they did through the challenges they faced. The highlight of the competition for Team Ontario was the fifth set of their semi-final against North California, in which they exchanged points with their opponent before finally punching their ticket to the final by winning the tie-breaker 22-20. The victory was a team effort but Xander Ketrzynski was named MVP of the tournament. Head Coach Matt Harris had this to say about Xander:
“He really asserted himself as a top player in this tournament. His attacking and serving abilities were unmatched. Xander plays like he practices so the whole team sees this award as an extension of his work ethic. Xander is a great teammate and cares about every team member.”
The 18U boys and girls have a few days of before they resume training at Brock University from July 27th to August 5th when they will be heading to Winnipeg to start their Canada Games tournament.
A few Ontario athletes were selected to Volleyball Canada's Youth National Teams, who also competed at the USA HP Championships - no easy task for 16Us competing in an elite tournament comprised mostly of 17 and 18U teams. Congratulations to these Ontario athletes for their selections:
Women: Haley Armstrong, Sadie Dick, Ellie Hatashita, Lexi Iggulden, Maddi Mulholland, and Lauren Pastor.
Men: Erik Siksna, Duncan Clark, Grant Reddon and Luke Blissett.