Destiny Discover
We Are Hiring

St. Mary advances to GHAC final

By Larry Moko

It was the biggest comeback and one of the most significant victories in the recent history of St. Mary boys’ high school volleyball.

The Crusaders rallied from a two-set deficit to defeat Oakville’s Blakelock Tigers, 3-2, in a Golden Horseshoe Athletic Conference AA semifinal Tuesday.

The Crusaders took the rubber match from the visitors, 17-15, after earlier scores of 23-25, 21-25, 25-20 and 25-20.

“This was very meaningful,” Crusaders setter Sam Rath said. “I’m in my fifth year at St. Mary and I’ve been playing since Grade 9 with two other guys (Koen Mahon and Eric Krygel) who also came back for Grade 13.

“We all really wanted to win. We’ve been looking forward to GHAC and OFSAA all season.”

If the Crusaders can take their GHAC final Thursday at King’s Christian College in Oakville they will advance to the Ontario AA championship tournament later this month in Huntsville.

“It was all in the spirit,” Crusaders coach Sonia Olejarz said when asked how the Crusaders were able to mount the comeback. “We had a little pep talk. We knew what we were doing wrong and we turned it around.”

Olejarz said the Crusaders, who finished the Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic season with an overall record of 7-8, struggled with injuries and sickness during league play.

Other St. Mary players include Cameron Fleming, Charlie Mattina, Josh Idoine, Shay Murray, Soloman Jackson, Xavier Baptiste, Sam Madronich, Dave Sumaria and Britton Gahirwa.

“Once we got down we really put it together and cut down on the mistakes,” Rath said.

The St. Mary coach credits nine-year veteran club player Rath with providing outstanding leadership. He started with Hamilton’s Mountain Athletic Club before joining the Oakville Thunder organization. And last year he helped Oakville finish fourth at the OVA championships.

“Sam is incredibly knowledgeable,” Olejarz said. “He knows the sport inside out. He oftentimes knows more than I do. He’s an integral part of this team.

“Sam knows where everyone needs to be and what everyone needs to be doing. I don’t know where we would be without him.”

Twice previously, Rath pointed out, St. Mary couldn’t get past King’s Christian in the GHAC playoffs at AA. “That was last year and when I came up from junior in Grade 10,” he said.

The fifth-place Crusaders recently bowed out of league playoffs after a 3-1 quarter-final loss to the fourth-place St. Thomas More Knights.

Elsewhere, the Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic champion St. John Henry Newman Cardinals travelled to Oakville and fell 3-0 to the Garth Webb Chargers in a GHAC AAA semifinal Monday. The scores were 25-14, 25-20 and 25-16.

Overall this season, Newman’s record was 15-3.





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

Photo by Gerry Graham
Photo by Gerry Graham

Photo by Gerry Graham
Photo by Gerry Graham