Bulldogs repeat at SOSSA volleyball
The Sir Winston Churchill Bulldogs senior boys volleyball team is heading to the Ontario Federation of School Athletic Associations AAA championship for the third straight year.
The Bulldogs punched their ticket to OFSAA Thursday by defeating A.N. Myer 3-0 (25-17, 25-18 and 25-14) in the Southern Ontario Secondary Schools Association championship match.
Churchill advanced to the SOSSA final with a 3-0 victory (25-19, 25-23 and 25-23) over Zone 1 champion Ancaster in the semifinals.
“They are a solid tight bunch and they move well together,” Bulldog head coach Brent Mergl said of his squad. “They are well connected with each other and they have a lot invested in each other.”
The six-time defending Zone 4 AAA champions and three-time defending SOSSA champions will be looking to improve on last season’s OFSAA performance where they lost in the quarter-finals. In 2017, Churchill won OFSAA silver.
“All of the other teams were good but this team has a well-distributed offence and there’s something special about this group of boys,” Mergl said.
Churchill co-player of the match Andrew Song has been to OFSAA the previous two years and agrees that this year’s version of the Bulldogs is different.
“This year we have a great total team,” the Grade 12 student said. “Before, people would always say Alex (Mrkalj) is our only guy but no one can say that this year. I can give the ball to anyone and they can score.”
Song has high hopes for OFSAA.
“We are hoping for a top three or a top four medal because there’s a team called Oakridge from London which is really good and is full of club players,” he said. “We have a 1-1 record against them and hopefully we can do some damage. I think they will be the winners at OFSAA.”
Churchill co-player of the match Matthew Jeffery loves being a Grade 12 player on the volleyball team.
“Now we get to run the show now that we are in Grade 12,” he said. “In years past, we had three or four older guys.
“This one means the most to me because we now have a core group of kids my age.”
Jeffery has high hopes for OFSAA.
“I want to win OFSAA myself and I am going to hold us to the highest standard,” he said. “I think we can do it if we play our best, but I would be happy with a medal.”
Members of the Churchill team are Nathan Butler, Noah Crawford, Andrew Donato, Spencer Gregson, Jaydon Hoadley, Jeffery, Quinn McInnis, Tye Meloche, Randy Phelan, Song, Cole Spagnuolo, Dylan Vanleeuwen and Alexander Wang.
Myer advanced to the SOSSA final with a 3-0 victory (25-11, 25-16 and 25-13) victory over Niagara Catholic Athletic Association (Zone 2 champion) Blessed Trinity.
In the SOSSA final, they didn’t have their best performance.
‘We struggled a bit with our fundamentals but we knew it was going to be a tough game,” Myer head coach Joanne Thomson said.
The Marauders had too many serves into the net and fell behind early in all three games.
“We got behind early and then we lost our focus a little bit but the reality is we are playing against a tough team,” Thomson said. “We have three Grade 12s on the floor but they are a little tougher than us fundamentally and they have a lot more travel players than us.
“They are a good team and I don’t mind losing to a good team.”
The Marauders went 7-0 in Zone 3 regular season play and then defeated Greater Fort Erie 3-1 in the Zone 3 AAA final.
“We had a very successful season and I am proud of the boys,” Thomson said. “We played hard all season.”
Myer returns five players next season and the team should be a SOSSA contender again in 2020.
Members of A.N. Myer are Dennis Lescombe, Matt Garrett, Victor Pietrangelo, Philip Parlatore, Nikola Mitrovic, Kaden Vaillancourt, Max Pingue, Macgregor Armstrong and Michael Ivanov.