NPC eyes ‘next level’

Tro­jans con­tinue strong sea­son with win over Ea­gles in se­nior boys vol­ley­ball

The Expositor (Brantford) - - SPORTS - BRIAN SMI­LEY EXPOSITOR STAFF bsmi­ley@post­media.com

With just a sin­gle loss fol­low­ing the first round of games in the Brant County high school se­nior boys vol­ley­ball sea­son, how much bet­ter can the North Park Col­le­giate Tro­jans be?

“I think we can play a lot bet­ter,” said NPC’s Zac Colton af­ter his team moved to 5-1 on the sea­son fol­low­ing a 25-23, 25-11 and 25-23 win at St. John’s Col­lege on Thurs­day against the Green Ea­gles.

“I think we can re­ally take it to the next level. We’re go­ing to need to if we’re go­ing to beat BCI, which I to­tally think we can do.”

Colton cited the SJC game as a good ex­am­ple of where im­prove­ments can be made.

Al­though they swept the Green Ea­gles in the best-of-five match, Colton said the team’s passes weren’t the best, it didn’t play fan­tas­ti­cally on tips and they could get to the ball a bit quicker. But those are re­ally mi­nor things.

From the first game of the sea­son un­til now, Colton said the Tro­jans have jelled well to im­prove on so many other things.

“I’m the only re­turn­ing player,” said Colton, who helped lead NPC to the cham­pi­onship a year ago.

“We’ve got a bunch of new play­ers. The Grade 11s know each other re­ally well so that’s good. They’re all friends.

“The older kids have just blended in.”

That co­he­sion was ev­i­dent early in Thurs­day’s match.

North Park jumped out to a 3-0 lead on the strength of a Ja­cob Fis­cher hit and solid Stefan Stanisic serv­ing be­fore St. John’s came back to tie things on a key block by Nathan Martin.

St. John’s would even­tu­ally get ahead 7-6, thanks in part to a Josh Reed smash. And that lead was ex­tended to 12-8 be­fore the vis­i­tors stormed back with six straight points.

Fol­low­ing a Hay­den Charlebois hit, the Tro­jans were up 19-16 and looked on their way to a 1-0 lead in the best-of-five match.

How­ever, the Green Ea­gles didn’t back down. And, at one point, SJC was ahead 23-20 be­fore North Park scored the fi­nal five points of the set to take a 1-0 lead.

In the sec­ond set, Colton smashed his sec­ond spec­tac­u­lar spike of the game to help put the Tro­jans ahead 11-5. Ex­cel­lent serv­ing from James Birch and strong net play from Charlebois and Fis­cher helped push that lead out of reach as NPC over­came some strong net play from Martin to go ahead 2-0.

Rac­ing out to an 8-2 lead in the third set, the Tro­jans looked to be safely ahead but, with Reed on the line, the Green Ea­gles fought back to cut their deficit to 11-9.

But North Park ex­tended their lead and, al­though St. John’s bat­tled back, a smash from Colton put the vis­i­tors ahead 24-22 and that point helped pro­pel NPC to the win.

SJC’s Reed said his team, de­spite its 1-5 mark, is get­ting bet­ter.

“Right now we are play­ing bet­ter,” said the vet­eran player.

“We’re start­ing to get our heads in the game and learn­ing to play vol­ley­ball.”

The loss dropped St. John’s record against North Park to 0-2 this sea­son.

“As a team we wanted to win re­ally bad (Thurs­day) so we came in with fire in our hearts to spank them,” said Reed.

“In the first set we showed that we can play with them.”

Reed said it’s too early to count SJC out of the play­off pic­ture.

“We’re con­fi­dent,” he said. “We’re com­ing at ev­ery team.

“Our heads are in the game and it’s time to go.”

BRIAN THOMP­SON/THE EXPOSITOR

Nathan Martin (left) of St. John's Col­lege spikes the ball in front of Hay­den Charlebois of North Park Col­le­giate dur­ing a high school se­nior boys vol­ley­ball game on Thurs­day.

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