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Knights overcome odds to capture quarter-final victory

By Larry Moko

With only one player available on the bench, it looked like the St. Thomas More Knights might be in for a long day.

But the Knights fought back from a first-set loss to defeat the visiting St. Mary Crusaders, 3-1, in a Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic high school boys’ volleyball quarter-final Thursday.

The scores were 22-25, 25-21, 25-11 and 25-16.

“We were missing three of our starters,” More coach Brad Thurston said. “They were sick and we didn’t have our regular setter.

“Our team really stepped up, though. The boys came to play.”

The absentees all happened to be Mountain Athletic Club players from the Iron. Said Thurston: “Marcus Solano (of the Knights) plays on the same club team and somehow luckily he avoided it.”

Solano was a key performer in the contest, providing strong serves and power hits from the left side. He also smashed down the final point of the match.

“I honestly don’t know,” Solano said when asked why he wasn’t sidelined, too. “Maybe because I was sick two weeks prior to that. Most of the people from our club got sick. I think maybe it was during a tournament that a lot of teams, including ours, were in.”

The Knights (8-6) finished the regular schedule in fourth place, while the Crusaders (7-7) placed fifth. And in their head-to-head meetings, each side had won 2-0 on its home court.

“It was definitely hard to get the win and get over this hump ,” Solano said. “We had to take the initiative as a team.

“We did not let that ball drop … I loved it.”

For the Knights to succeed, it was important for them to try and limit the effectiveness of St. Mary setter Sam Rath. He helped Oakville Thunder to a fourth-place finish at the provincial championship. “Our blocking was able to shut down his sets with multiple blocks,” Solano said.

The Knights will take on the St. John Henry Newman Cardinals in one of the semifinals while the St. Jean de Brebeuf Braves face the ACMT Jaguars in the other. Both games are Tuesday, Nov. 8.

“We’re a good team when we play our best,” Thurston said. “Most teams have one or two good hitters. On our team, everyone can hit.

“We might not have that one all-star, but all of our players can play very well.”

In other quarter-final results, first-place Newman topped the eighth-place Bishop Tonnos Titans, 3-0, the second-place Braves downed the seventh-place Cathedral Gaels, 3-0, and the third-place Jaguars edged the sixth-place Bishop Ryan Celtics, 3-1.

Newman began the season with 12 consecutive victories until it lost 2-0 to both St. Thomas More and St. Mary to conclude the schedule.

St. Mary’s Golden Horseshoe Athletic Conference playoffs hopes remain alive at the AA level. On Nov. 8, the Crusaders will play host to a GHAC semifinal against Halton Public’s No. 2 finisher.







Photo by Gerry Graham
Photo by Gerry Graham

Photo by Gerry Graham
Photo by Gerry Graham

Photo by Gerry Graham
Photo by Gerry Graham

Photo by Gerry Graham
Photo by Gerry Graham

Photo by Gerry Graham
Photo by Gerry Graham

Photo by Gerry Graham
Photo by Gerry Graham

Photo by Gerry Graham
Photo by Gerry Graham

Photo by Gerry Graham
Photo by Gerry Graham

Photo by Gerry Graham
Photo by Gerry Graham

Photo by Gerry Graham
Photo by Gerry Graham

Photo by Gerry Graham
Photo by Gerry Graham

Photo by Gerry Graham
Photo by Gerry Graham

Photo by Gerry Graham
Photo by Gerry Graham

Photo by Gerry Graham
Photo by Gerry Graham