Jr. Eagles take Game 1 of volleyball final
It took 48 hours for St. John’s College to grab a 1-0 lead in the Brant County high school junior boys volleyball championship.
Two days after an incident at Assumption College forced the school to be closed in the middle of Game 1, the Green Eagles on Thursday defeated the Brantford Collegiate Institute Mustangs 26-24, 25-21, 20-25 and 25-14 at ACS to take a 1-0 lead in the bestof-three final.
Game 2 will be played Friday at 4 p.m. and Game 3, if necessary, will be Monday at 4 p.m. Both games are at ACS.
Game 1 started on Tuesday but was halted with SJC up 2-0 in the best-of-five match – and leading 11-8 in the third set. An announcement was made instructing everyone at the school to assemble in the gym. About 30 minutes later, everyone was escorted out of the gym by police and the game was postponed. Later, police announced that they had charged a 21-year-old man with uttering threats.
St. John’s coach Patrick Wilkes said he tried to put the players’ focus on Thursday’s game.
“We just kept reminding them that they can’t control the elements, all they can do is control what’s on the court,” he said.
The Eagles did not panic when they lost the third set on Thursday.
“We’ve got a good group of kids,” said Wilkes. “They still managed to fight and get a win.”
After beginning the regular season with one win and two losses, the Eagles went 6-1.
Wilkes credited the players’ maturity and confidence with the turnaround.
“I would say they’re growing,” said the coach, whose team enjoyed its first win of the season against BCI.
This is how the first two sets and the start of the third in the best-offive match played out on Tuesday.
SJC’s Ronan Vezsenyi had two big blocks and then a hit to tie the first set at 2-2. The Green Eagles eventually went ahead 6-3 but, following some fine serves from Steven Knights, BCI went out front 7-6.
With Vezsenyi continuing his strong play at the net, St. John’s turned the tide and grabbed a 14-8 lead. Following back-to-back hits from James Deane, the advantage for the Eagles stretched to 20-12.
At that point, the set seemed sealed but BCI had other ideas, battling back to tie the match at 24-24. However, Vezsenyi came through at the end with a spike to put SJC up 1-0.
Despite the rocky ending to the first set, the Green Eagles picked up things to start the second, grabbing a 3-0 lead thanks to strong serving from Jordan MacKinnon.
Down 7-3, BCI’s Sean Pugh had a nice tip and then William Ford served a couple of points to get the Mustangs to within one.
Things stayed relatively close until SJC went ahead 13-9 but the momentum switched again on a block from Chase Bagshaw of the Mustangs. With Jascon Estoesra serving up a storm, BCI took a 15-13 lead.
However, in the end, St. John’s overtook its opponent and went ahead 2-0.
Down 8-2 in the third set, the Mustangs took a timeout to regroup and that seemed to work as BCI reeled off four straight points to get back in the game.
When play resumed on Thursday, SJC held an 11-8 lead in the third set but the Mustangs rallied and eventually went ahead 14-13.
The Eagles looked like a completely different team from Tuesday as they were on their heels.
On the other side of the net, BCI also brought a different game to the court on Thursday, attacking and pushing forward to extend the match.
Eventually the Mustangs would achieve their goal, sending things to a fourth set.
Great serving from Jaden Chagnon and a couple of hits from Vezsenyi helped turn around things for St. John’s as it went ahead 6-1. And, after the lead was extended to 12-5, BCI called timeout.
But the break didn’t help and after the Eagles increased their advantage to 15-5, they were well on their way to winning the match.
It’s been a tough week for the Mustangs. After the incident at Assumption, the following day there was a hold and secure at BCI after the school received a threat.
“It’s been an emotional week for them,” said BCI coach Kessia Rosa. “We had two lockdowns back-toback.”
But the coach said she is pleased with how her team played. “They handled it well,” she said. The coach said her team, which finished first during the regular season at 8-2, will be ready for Game 2 on Friday.
“They don’t like to lose and they’ve had a lot of winning. They like the taste of that.”
Chase Bagshaw (left) and William Ford of Brantford Collegiate Institute go up for the block as Ronan Vezsenyi of St. John's College gets set to spike the ball during a junior boys volleyball final on Tuesday at Assumption College that was postponed on Tuesday and resumed on Thursday.