The 2014 Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic high school girls’ volleyball playoffs have begun and the Bishop Ryan Celtics are determined to not let another title slip through their fingers.
In each of the past three seasons, the Celtics – first as midgets, then junior and last year as seniors — advanced to the final where they were matched against the Cardinal Newman Cardinals. And on each of those occasions, Newman came out on top.
It was particularly hard to swallow for BR last year when it held a 13-8 lead in the fifth and deciding set. The Celtics, in the end, fell two points short — losing 15-13.
Second-place Bishop Ryan (11-3) returned to the court for a senior quarter-final playoff on Wednesday (Feb. 12), blanking the visiting Bishop Tonnos Titans, 3-0. The scores were 25-13, 25-22, 25-18.
Elsewhere, the St. Mary Crusaders (11-3) downed the St. Thomas More Knights (4-10) in straight sets. Other opening-round playoff games saw Cardinal Newman (12-2) blank the Cathedral Gaels (0-14) and the ACMT Jaguars (9-5) eliminate the St. Jean de Brebeuf Braves (5-9).
The semi-finals are scheduled for Friday.
“We came together very well as a team,” Celtics’ coach Julie Chmura said after her squad defeated the Titans for the third time in as many tries this season. “We had some great swings, great hits and great kills. We played well defensively and our serves were on.”
Left-side player Victoria Golebiowski turned in another strong effort for the Celtics. She is one of seven returnees from the 2013 BR team which participated in the Triple A Ontario Federation of School Athletic Associations tournament in Windsor.
“We’ve had three finals against Newman in the past three years,” said Golebiowski, a Grade 12 student in her third season playing at the senior level. “It would mean a whole lot, especially to the veterans on our team, to finally take the championship out of their hands.”
Golebiowski, a member of the Mountain Volleyball Clubs 18U entry, said the Celtics let up in the deciding set against Newman last year. “We managed to kind of let them take control of the game when we really should have closed the set easily and taken the championship,” she said. “If we play them again it will be a matter of staying composed at all times and finishing the set.”
According to Chmura, Golebiowski will be key to Bishop Ryan’s success.
“Vicky is a rep player,” the Celtics coach said, “so she’s very skilled and has good court-awareness. She’s got some phenomenal serves and helps build the team up as well.”
Despite losing in last year’s HWCAA championship, the Celtics went on to place fifth overall at the OFSAA tournament. They got there through a Triple A qualifying win at the Golden Horseshoe Athletic Conference playoff against the Burlington Notre Dame Fighting Irish.
“We lost in the quarter-finals,” Golebiowski said. “It’s a school record, though. It’s the best we’ve ever done in our history at OFSAA.”
Other members of the Celtics are Sofia Gligoric, Jenna Mazza-Anthony, Tori Santino, Lydia Josipovic, Kristina Josipovic, Rachel Pinter, Sasha McFadden, Ciarah D’Aurora, Brittany Roberto, Nancy Vincic and Julia Krbavac.
Bishop Ryan will be at home to face St. Mary in the semi-final. Those teams split their two meetings during the regular season.