Surprise silver for Horton boys at volleyball provincials

John Decoste
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The NSSAF Division 1 Boys Volleyball Western Region Championships were hosted by Parkview High School on Nov. 21. The Horton Griffins defeated the West Kings Wolverines by a score of 25-18, 25-18 in the championship game.  

In front, from left, are Jordan Merks, Eric Tynski, Alex Whamond, Andrew Knapp and Andrew Leeman. In back are coach Lisa DePaoli, Ian Thomas, Bradley Stewart, Jonah Brodeur, Calem MacKinnon. Missing from the picture is assistant coach Ben Roberts. - Submitted

The Horton boys’ volleyball team placed second at the recent NSSAF D-1 boys’ volleyball provincials in Truro – a result that both team members and head coach Lisa DePaoli termed a surprise. 

Horton was also second at provincials a year ago, but according to DePaoli, at the beginning of this season, “we would have been happy just to be competitive.”

After winning the regional title to advance to provincials, Horton drew perennial provincial rival Sackville in their opening match Dec. 6 and won 17-25, 25-21, 15-12.

Later that same day, the Griffins swept Halifax West 25-15 and 25-20 to improve to 2-0 and advance to the crossover semifinals.

In their final round robin match Dec. 7, Horton met Ecole Secondaire du Sommet from Halifax. In a nail-biter of a match, Sommet won 21-25, 25-23 and 15-13.

The Griffins’ semifinal opponent was the host team from Truro. Horton prevailed two sets to one, 25-23, 20-25 and 15-10, to qualify for the provincial final.

Their opponent was once again Sommet, which entered the final undefeated at 4-0 and remained so following a 25-20, 25-21 straight-set win over the Griffins.

To Grade 11 player Jonah Brodeur, this year’s runner-up finish was “less disappointing” than last year’s “because we saw a lot more improvement” through the season.

“We didn’t expect to get that far,” he added.

The key to Horton’s success this season, he added, was how well the team got along. The 2013 Griffins “were less experienced, but we worked together better and progressed better as a team through the season.”

Grade 12 setter Eric Tynski, one of the team captains, agreed.

“At the start of the season, we felt it might be a struggle to even make provincials, much less do as well as we did,” he said.

To Tynski, the key was “great teamwork. We all bought into it together.”

DePaoli, in her fourth year coaching the Horton D-1 boys, was more than pleased with the season, even given the final result.

“We had a very good team this year,” she said.

The Griffins, she said, “were a small team, just nine players. Everybody had to totally commit or it wouldn’t have worked, and that’s what happened.”

DePaoli, Brodeur and Tynski all agreed the turning point of the season was the Wolverine Classic tournament in Charlottetown in late October.

Horton started off 0-2, but didn’t lose again. In the final against Charlottetown Rural, the score of the final set was 45-43 for Horton.

“After that, we realized we were good enough to win any game we played,” Tynski said.

West Kings also competed at the D-1 boys’ provincials. After going 2-1 in their round robin games, losing 2-0 to CEC and defeating Citadel and Park View 2-0, West Kings lost 25-19, 27-25 to Sommet in the semifinals. 

Geographic location: Halifax, Charlottetown

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