By Darryl G. Smart
The Simcoe Sabres improbable playoff run continued Tuesday.
For the third time in a row, the sixth-place Sabres shocked everyone but themselves to capture the Athletic Association of Brant Haldimand Norfolk senior boys volleyball title. This time it was a 3-1 (25-20, 25-23, 24-26, 25-21) win over the Dunnville Panthers.
“This was big,” Sabres captain Riley Hunter said. “It felt like the biggest victory in volleyball during my five years at SCS.”
But like any championship, this one didn’t come easy.
“We started off a bit sloppy facing a wicked jump serve,” Hunter said. “Although we turned it around to win the first and second sets, we made several mistakes that cost us the third. But we weren’t backing down. We all regrouped and didn’t let the previous set get to our heads.
Our only focus was to bring that AABHN title home and that’s exactly what we did in that fourth set.”
The Sabres finished in sixth place overall during the regular season with a 4-4 record. The improbable playoff run began with upsets over the Valley Heights Bears and Delhi Raiders, in the AABHN West semifinal and final, before knocking off the Panthers, who were 5-3 in the regular season and the second seed in the East.
“This team has improved so much over the course of this season and we came out on top with two leagues put together,” Hunter said.
The Sabres now shift their focus on the Central Western Ontario Secondary Schools Association tournament Friday in Walkerton. With a berth for the Ontario Federation of School Athletic Associations championships on the line, the Sabres will take on the AABHN District 5 qualifier North Park Collegiate Trojans and Walkerton’s Sacred Heart High School.