Newman Cardinals are arm-ed for volleyball

The Cardinal Newman Cardinals have something up their sleeve.

This season, for the first time, the jerseys of the Newman senior girls’ high school volleyball team feature a camouflage pattern on each arm, extending from wrist to shoulder.

(Photo: Gerry Graham)

(Photo: Gerry Graham)

Sporting their eye-catching new design, the Cardinals travelled to St. Mary on Tuesday (Jan. 14) and defeated the Crusaders, 3-1 (25-23, 27-29, 25-22, 25-17).

With the result, defending champion Newman continues to lead the Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic Athletic Association standings with a 9-1 record. The Crusaders are second at 8-2. Entering Tuesday’s action, Bishop Ryan Celtics and ACMT Jaguars were tied for third (6-3), followed by St. Jean de Brebeuf Braves (3-6), Bishop Tonnos Titans (2-7), St. Thomas More Knights (2-7), and Cathedral Gaels (0-9).

“The girls wanted long-sleeve jerseys,” said Newman coach Henry Stachurski. “We had the opportunity to design our own, so the girls had a lot of input.

We’ve had good feedback about them.”

Stachurski says the long sleeves are practical, too, for absorbing sweat.

Veteran outside hitter Rachel Todd of the Cardinals likes the look: “I think they are really cool,” the 5-foot-11, three-year senior veteran said. “It makes us stand out.”

With the match tied at one set apiece, Newman grabbed a 23-16 lead in the third set. Three consecutive service aces by St. Mary’s Brooke Lahaie then narrowed the gap to three points (23-20) before the visitors were able to regroup. In set No. 4, the score was 10-5 for St. Mary until Newman got on a roll.

Both of St. Mary’s losses this season have been against Newman. The Cardinals won 3-2 on Dec. 5 at Newman.

The see-saw rematch had plenty of momentum switches.

Said Stachurski said. “It was about who could stay on the see-saw the longest without throwing up.”

The Newman coach said patience and togetherness helped his veteran squad get past the Crusaders.

“We started off slow and picked up energy at the end,” said 17-year-old Todd, whose younger sister, Roberta, a Grade 9 student, gives the Cardinals added height and pop from the right side. Both Roberta and Rachel have club volleyball experience in Burlington and Etobicoke, respectively.

Crusaders’ coach Chiara Salvatore said her team let the match slip away in the fourth set when the Cardinals overcame a five-point deficit and built a comfortable lead of their own. One of the key performers for the Crusaders was Taylor Vallee, one of four members of last season’s HWCAA junior championship squad.

“Our serving was really good,” Salvatore said of the overall St. Mary performance. “That strategy worked. And we had good placement of serves.”

Newman’s only loss thus far during the regular season came last week against Bishop Ryan in a match that went five sets.

The Cardinals took part in a 32-team tournament last weekend at London’s Fanshawe College. And there, they finished a respectable third.

“It was a good weekend,” Stachurski said. “We did a good job of competing. I think we’re just as strong if not stronger than we were last year.”