Oh, baby! What an exciting night of volleyball at Cardinal Newman Catholic Secondary School.
With their two-week old baby in attendance at a packed Cardinal Newman gym on Friday (Nov. 8), the husband and wife coaching duo of teachers Nicole Trombetta and Mike Fuchs saw their respective Cardinal junior and senior boys’ volleyball teams compete for Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic Athletic Association championships.
Trombetta, who left most of the coaching duties to her assistants led by Matt Galliani, had to settle for the silver medal. Her Cardinals built a 2-0 lead but fell 3-2 to the St. Mary Crusaders. As for Fuchs, he guided Newman to the gold with a 3-0 decision over the Cathedral Gaels (25-20, 25-18, 25-21).
St. Mary took the junior match by set scores of 20-25, 13-25, 25-17, 26-24, 15-12.
“It’s been quite a night for everybody concerned,” Fuchs said.
Trombetta had their second child, Eviana, on Oct. 29. Trombetta had coached the team until Oct. 18 when she handed over the reins to her assistants.
“She kind of sat upstairs with the baby tonight and then went down for the end of the junior game just to see the players and support them,” Fuchs said. “She hadn’t been there for a couple of weeks.”
The couple’s other child – 2 ½ year old Elisa – was on hand for the championships, too. Said Fuchs: “We won the championship in 2011 when our first daughter was a newborn. We won again this year when our second daughter was born.”
In 2011, the Cardinals won the Golden Horseshoe Athletic Conference crown and eventually bowed out in the quarter-final round at the OFSAA tournament. Newman will face the Halton Quad A representative — either Georgetown or Oakville Trafalgar — at this year’s GHAC championship in Hamilton on Thursday.
Setter Nick Casuccio, the lone fifth-year player on the Newman roster, turned in a solid performance and drew the praise of his coach.
“Nick did an awesome job,” Fuchs said. “He controls everything. He is really the emotional leader. Two other hitters were really strong for us – Jake Plumb and Patrick Wilusz.”
Fuchs said the Cardinals have been working on serves for the past two weeks. And he pointed out that another key against Cathedral was trying to avoid the Gaels big hitters, most notably Matthew Passalent.
“When he is in the front row, he is going to score a bunch,” Fuchs said of Passalent. “When he gets into the back row, we said that’s when we’ve got to take advantage by putting up some points. The kids did a really good job.”
Cathedral coach Andrea McCabe said the experience of the Cardinals showed.
“Newman is a well-coached, well disciplined team,” McCabe said. “And they have been for many years. I have a lot of respect for coach Fuchs and what he does for the program here. It has always been excellent with him at the helm.”
McCabe expects eight players back with the Gaels next season along with four talented juniors. “The future is bright for Cathedral volleyball,” she said. “With our (lack of) experience, we had no business being here this year.”
In the junior division, the Chiara Salvatore-coached Crusaders capped a strong playoff push. After finishing fourth in the standings, St. Mary beat the top-seeded Brebeuf Braves in five sets to win their semi-final.