Raiders enter playoffs on high
Emma Diemer was the perfect choice to be captain of the Holy Cross Raiders senior girls volleyball team.
“She is our setter but she is someone who is always at every practice, keeping the team together and on the court for every play,” said Holy Cross head Brianne Crnkovic, moments after the Raiders recorded a 3-1 victory (25-20, 25-23, 21-25 and 25-22) over the visiting Saint Michael Mustangs. “She is part of it and she is there to support everyone no matter what.”
The Grade 12 student relishes her role on the team.
“I also play soccer and I have been a captain quite a few times. I am close with everyone on the team and I like to hype everyone up before we start and kind of take control and tell them what to do in practice,” the 17-year-old said.
She knows her role is a key one.
“It is important because we all encourage each other and without that I feel that we would get discouraged about the game when we are down. But we are able to get back up because of that.”
The travel soccer player with the West Lincoln Warriors enjoys volleyball.
“I am just competitive and every sport I play is important to me. It is really fun to have this as well as soccer and to work as a team.”
She finds volleyball is good cross training for soccer, mentally and physically.
“Teamwork has to do with everything and even the endurance we have.”
The Raiders needed some mental fortitude after falling behind 10-0 in the fourth and deciding set. Saint Michael’s grabbed that lead with seven service aces from Julia Breen. Breen’s powerful serve gave the Raiders fits until she had to leave early for another commitment.
“We weren’t taking it too seriously and we were all making fun of each other,” Diemer said, with a laugh.
Defending the serve was almost like self defence.
“Honestly, we were all scared every time we see her serve,” she said. “We were getting a little bit nervous but we didn’t let it get to us in the end.”
Saint Michael came into the game with a league-best 5-1 record but fell to 5-2 and ended up tied for first in Niagara Catholic Athletic Association play with Saint Francis and Holy Cross.
“We have a really good team. We have a good mix of Grade 11s and Grade 12s and a nice group of girls,” Saint Michael’s coach Eric Germano said. “It has been a good year and I like this group.”
Germano agreed things change when Breen had to leave.
“That is high school sports. The girls are going to come and go and you have to work with what you’ve got. You always have changing lineups,” he said. “I think the big thing today was we have girls playing beside girls they are not used to playing beside and it was more a chemistry thing. It requires more practising but the girls did well to make it a game against a really good team.”
Germano is looking forward to the playoffs.
“We have a few more things to work on. The long weekend hurts things because we can’t have too many practices but we are excited to play whatever team we’ve got and we’re excited to potentially bring something back to the school.”
Crnkovic is a big fan of her squad as well.
“They have worked really well as a group, they have had awesome energy every game and they have been dedicated at practice,” she said. “They have been a great group of girls.”
Knocking off the first-place team to end the regular season will be a nice confidence boost for the Raiders.
“We even had some students away today from our team and we did it without a full lineup,” Crnkovic said. “It was their energy and drive.”
Diemer feels beating Saint Michael is a great way to head into the playoffs.
“I think we are going to do well, no matter what because we work really hard but it was a good confidence boost. Winning definitely feels pretty good.”