The Bishop Ryan Celtics had a very unproductive practice on Thursday (Feb. 13).
Coach Julie Chmura’s squad was preparing for the following day when it would face the St. Mary Crusaders in a Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic Athletic Association senior girls’ high school volleyball semifinal at the Bishop Ryan gym.
Unfortunately for the Celtics, one of their most dynamic players – left side Vicky Golebiowski – suffered an ankle injury at that workout. She was sidelined on crutches as a result and the Crusaders went on to defeat Bishop Ryan, 3-1. The scores were 25-14, 25-27, 25-22, 25-17.
The Crusaders advance to Wednesday’s (Feb. 19) championship against the Cardinal Newman Cardinals, who topped the ACMT Jaguars 3-1 in the other semifinal.
“We were just working on some strategic plays,” Chmura said of the injury to Golebiowski, a Mountain Volleyball Club veteran. “She was going up for a block. When she came down she sprained her ankle. That shut down the rest of the practice. We were focused on taking care of her. I think that kind of threw the kids off mentally.
“Vicky is a strong competitor and a big asset to our team. And by not being able to finish practice, we weren’t able to get strategically ready for this game.”
The final standings indicated that the BR versus St. Mary playoff match would be tightly contested. Both teams finished the regular schedule with a record of 11-3. And in their two head-to-head meetings, each had won in straight sets.
“We were pretty lucky that they were short that player,” Crusaders co-captain Brooke Lahaie said. “I was expecting a really close match.
“We came in driven to win. We worked really hard and pulled together. We picked on certain players that we knew couldn’t handle certain things.”
St. Mary coach Chiara Salvatore says Lahaie is a “gamer” who is mentally strong and serves very well.
“Our serving really helped us today,” Salvatore said.
The Crusaders competently executed their game plan and did a good job of selecting serve receive targets.
The Celtics had their moments. However, they hurt themselves, particularly in the fourth set, with a string of unforced errors on offence. As for the play of the Crusaders, Chmura said: “Their left side swing was really strong. We weren’t able to get up on that block and slow it down.”
Salvatore also praised the efforts of Crusaders left side hitter, Adele Olejarz.
“Adele knew where she had to swing in order for us to score points,” Salvatore said. “And she also adjusted very well on defence (to changes by the BR offence).”
Other members of the Crusaders are Charlotte Rose, Taylor Vallee, Zoe Cleland, Victoria DiCesare, Lilia Olejarz, Nicole Gwiazdowicz and co-captain Paige Pierce.
At Cardinal Newman, the first-place Cardinals (12-2) won by scores of 25-17, 25-21, 26-28, 25-14 over the fourth-place Jaguars (9-5). The visitors rallied from a 21-12 deficit to take the third set. In the fourth set, the defending champions got on a serving roll and ACMT could not respond.
Newman swept its season series from St. Mary. The Cardinals won 3-2 on Dec. 5 and 3-1 and Jan. 14.
“It’s a tough loss on us,” Chmura said. “We were hoping to make it to OFSAA.”