Cardinals take their sister act to OFSAA volleyball provincials

The Cardinal Newman Cardinals’ 1-2 punch combined to knock a Halton opponent out of the regional girls’ high school volleyball playoffs.

With sisters Rachel and Roberta Todd leading the way – they wear jerseys No. 1 and No. 2, respectively — the Cardinals defeated the visiting Georgetown District Rebels, 3-2, in a Golden Horseshoe Athletic Conference semi-final on Monday (Feb. 24).

(Photo: Gerry Graham/HWCDSB)

(Photo: Gerry Graham/HWCDSB)

That victory assures the Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic league champions an automatic berth in the Ontario Federation of School Athletic Associations Quad A tournament March 3-5 in Barrie.

Before then, however, the Cardinals travel to Oakville Trafalgar on Tuesday (Feb. 25) to face the Red Devils for the GHAC title. The Halton champion topped Hamilton’s St. Jean de Brebeuf Braves, 3-1, in the other semifinal.

“I think we’ll have a good chance when we get to OFSAA,” said Rachel Todd, a dynamic all-around player who is weighing offers from schools in the United States and Canada to continue her volleyball career next season.

Todd, an outside hitter, believes the Cardinals are stronger than last season when they lost in the GHAC playoffs to the Holy Trinity Titans of Oakville.

Rachel’s younger sister is a rookie in Grade 9. Both play club ball, in separate age groups, for Burlington Defensa.

“I think she brings my attitude,” Rachel says of Roberta’s contribution to the squad. “It’s really competitive between us. And I think that drives everyone else on the team to rise to the occasion.”

Newman started slowly against the Rebels, dropping the opening set, 25-21. The Cardinals then gained the upper hand with 25-16 and 25-19 set victories. In the fourth set, however, Newman took a 3-1 lead before yielding 13 consecutive points. Georgetown District went on to win, 25-6.

The deciding set went to Newman, 15-11.

(Photo: Gerry Graham/HWCDSB)

(Photo: Gerry Graham/HWCDSB)

“We just couldn’t get it together,” Rachel Todd said of the one-sided fourth-set. “We dug ourselves a hole that was too deep. Coming into the fifth set we realized we’d have to stick to together and support each other. We had a lot of extended rallies. Our defence, as well as our offence, prevailed.”

Cardinals’ coach Henry Stachurski said he could sense his team’s mid-match lapse.

“We started to let some little things bother us,” Stachurski said. “Like there was a rotation call against us. That seemed to throw us off a little. The funny part was that it was our senior kids who were getting thrown off by it.

“Mentally, it’s hard to dig yourself out of a big hole like that. But we regrouped for the fifth set.”

Stachurski reminded his players going into the 15-point fifth set how close they were to getting the chance to represent the school at OFSAA. He suggested they look at their situation as an opportunity to advance, not an opportunity lost.

“That’s one of the hardest things in sports, to wipe away the mistakes,” he said.

The Newman vs. Oakville Trafalgar match will help determine seedings for the provincial tournament.

Other members of the Cardinals lineup are Elysa Zanon, Trish Southall, Amanda Bruzzese, Evi Cusimano, Kristen Farkas, Kiana Mammolite, Sophie Mesic, Jess Maltese, Cara Persia, Julia Cuicani and Amanda Adoranti.

In GHAC Triple A volleyball playoff action on Monday, the Abbey Park Eagles of Oakville topped the visiting St. Mary Crusaders, 3-0. Abbey Park, recent Halton champions in senior girls’ volleyball for the first time in school history, qualifies for the OFSAA tournament to be played March 3-5 in Kingsville. Abbey Park was 13-0 in league play, edging Oakville Trafalgar 3-2 for the Halton crown last week at Sheridan College.

The Crusaders (11-3) fell 3-2 last week in the HWCAA championship against the first-place Cardinals (12-2).