Feb 15, 2013- 2:27 PM
Not that this stopped them from administering a top-end performance that was just about as dominant as any volleyball team could be. The Shield whalloped the Collège Boréal Vipères 25-4, 25-5, 25-9, as the young, undersized visiting crew had little to no response for a seasoned well-oiled Cambrian machine.
In the final home game of their OCAA careers, Jillian Shell, Kelsey Fielding, Stephanie Walker and Shawna Metcalf were looking more than a tad ready for post-season play, an assessment that was echoed by longtime coach Dale Beausoleil.
“I think the team played exceptionally well,” he said. “They did what they were supposed to, what we've been working on. We've been working hard on quite a few combinations that we haven't used much before.”
After dropping matches to both Durham and Algonquin before Christmas, the Golden Shield closed by winning 11 of their last 12 encounters, securing second place in the OCAA East and avoiding the first-round elimination games that will take place this weekend.
“The team is playing much better right now,” said Beausoleil. “We're peaking at the right time. We had big wins against Trent and Durham. I like how the girls are playing going into OCAA's, but there are tough teams in the East and tough teams in the West.”
While headlines followed the career record-setting marks that were established by Metcalf, Beausoleil knows all too well that success will come by virtue of a complete team effort. In this regard, the knowledge that all aspects of the game are in synch must be quite encouraging.
“We are serving better, our passing is getting better, our defence is much better and we're starting to hit the ball hard,” acknowledged Beausoleil. “We're starting to really hit some good balls.”
This crescendo of volleyball skill sets will be put to the ultimate test beginning Feb. 21 in Peterborough when the OCAA championships kick off at Trent University. The Cambrian crew will open against the winner of the Fanshawe-Loyalist match taking place on Feb. 16.
Although the men's encounter contained absolutely no playoff implications, the head-to-head battle between Cambrian (1-18) and Boreal (0-19) was very evenly matched, producing far more drama than the opening half of the volleyball double-header.
In the end, the Golden Shield rode a strong performance from veteran Dakota Campbell, pulling away at key points in the evening to record a 25-20, 25-23, 25-23 three-game sweep.
The challenge, for both teams, will be to try and return some of the young talent that just cut their teeth this year at the OCAA level.
The likes of Marc Leclair and Kyle Chartrand of the Vipères, as well as Kevin Best and rookie setter Michael Wandziak from Cambrian all show potential to grow and develop, the type of core that a team can be built around.