By Darryl G. Smart
The McKinnon Park Blue Devils and Simcoe Sabres junior volleyball teams couldn’t be more perfect, completing undefeated seasons to capture the Athletic Association of Brant Haldimand Norfolk District 5 and 9 junior boys volleyball titles.
On Tuesday, the Sabres dug themselves in a deep hole but clawed their way out to beat the Hagersville Hurricanes 3-2 (22-25, 23-25, 25-17, 25-13, 15-7) to claim the AABHN District 9 championship.
“Winning this means everything as we maintained our perfect record on the season,” Andrew Auld said. “This team came a long way from not playing volleyball at all to becoming the champs. It’s also an amazing honour to be the very first AABHN champs.”
Auld said a ton of credit goes to coach Greg Pajor.
“He led us all the way through and gave us the tools to win it all,” Auld said.
And that includes ingraining mental toughness. Like they have all season, the Sabres took a never give up approach. That was a huge factor Tuesday after being pushed to the brink of not only being swept in three games, but losing that perfect season.
“It was a tough final,” Auld said. “We quickly faced adversity that we hadn’t really experienced yet this season. We went down two sets to none and had our backs against the wall. We knew what we had to do but we’re just making small mental mistakes.”
Then the Sabres found their groove all the way to the AABHN title.
“We rallied back showing our true colours and came all the way back to win,” Auld said.
The McKinnon Park Blue Devils completed their perfect season, beating the Brantford Collegiate Institute Mustangs 3-1 (25-17, 24-26, 25-23 and 25-17) to win the AABHN District 5 title.
The Blue Devils were dominant all season, only losing eight sets in 12 regular season games. In the playoffs, that dominance continued, when they swept the St. John’s College Eagles in the semifinal, before only giving up one set in the final.