The 2018 belairdirect OCAA Women’s Volleyball Championships heated up later in its second day as the games that determine who would advance to the finals occurred this evening, starting with a semifinal showdown between the fourth-seeded Sheridan Bruins and the sixth-seeded Niagara Knights; both teams finished with an 11-7 record in the OCAA West during the regular season.
Sheridan faced off against the top-seeded Loyalist Lancers from the OCAA East and stunned the Lancers, beating them in four sets (25-17, 16-25, 25-23, 26-24). The Bruins had the edge in kills (38-27) and was masterful in the service game, with 15 aces.
Joelle Parnham was named Player of the Game for the Bruins and dished out a game-high 36 assists while Tamia Cooper-Evelyn led Sheridan with 14 points on 12 kills.
For Niagara, the quarterfinals was a repeat of their crossover game against the Algonquin Thunder as they, once again, came back from down two sets to stun the Fanshawe Falcons in five sets (18-25, 17-25, 26-24, 26-24, 15-10), despite being outscored in every statistical category but blocks and aces.
Jordan Koslowski was spectacular as she finished with a team-high 18 points on 15 kills and was named Player of the Game for the Knights.
In front of a packed house at the Athletic and Wellness Centre, it was the Knights who advanced to the gold medal game with a straight-sets win over the Bruins (25-23, 25-11, 25-16).
In what has the norm for this year’s tournament, this marks the sixth time out of seven games that the lower seed had won.
The Knights had the Bruins’ number in every stat- kills (29-22), assists (22-20), aces (15-6), blocks (6-1), and digs (39-27).
Rachel Rivers was named Player of the Game for the Knights, leading all scorers with 15 points on a game-high six aces. Melissa McFadden finished with a team-high 16 assists while Ainsleigh Williams had a game-high 12 digs.
Tara Aune led Sheridan with nine points on a game-high eight kills and was named the Bruins’ Player of the Game. Joelle Parnham dished out a game-high 17 assists while Rachel Abrahams had a team-high seven digs.
Niagara now awaits the winner of the semifinal between the Humber Hawks and the St. Clair Saints for a chance to advance to nationals. Meanwhile, Sheridan faces off against the loser of Humber/St. Clair for a chance at bronze.
Sheridan jumped out to a 10-6 lead early in the first set but Niagara chipped away at the deficit and went on a 5-0 run to take an 18-15 lead. A kill from Jordan Koslowski gave Niagara four chances at set point and despite three straight kills from Aune, the Knights took the first set, 25-23, after a kill from McFadden.
Niagara then turned it on in the second set, scoring seven of the first nine points as McFadden and Rivers each had three aces during the set. The Knights then scored six of the last eight points to take the second set, 25-11.
The Knights’ service dominance continued in the third set as Natasha Desjardins hit consecutive aces to start it off and pulled off six straight points to take an 8-2 lead and never looked back. A block from Tamara Edwards ended the match as Niagara took the third set, 25-16.