By Larry Moko
Helped by the combined efforts of the girls’ volleyball head coach Alvisia Maga and her daughter, Avaya, Bishop Tonnos Catholic Secondary School captured a gold medal at the 2023 OFSAA championships in Barrie Wednesday.
Twenty-teams were entered in the three-day AAA event.
In the final, the eighth-seeded Titans rallied to take a 3-2 decision over the No. 1-seeded Dunbarton Spartans of Pickering. And that came on the heels of a 3-0 semifinal victory earlier in the day over the second-seeded Franco-Cite Faucons of Ottawa.
“That’s one way to do it,” the coach of the Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic league champions said. “If you’re going to win gold you mind as well beat the best two teams.”
It was the first provincial title – and first OFSAA appearance – for Tonnos in its volleyball history.
The Ancaster school won seven straight matches at OFSAA to complete the season with an overall record of 33-2.
“We battled,” Titans’ middle and team captain Ava Connelly said. “We worked hard and we deserved it.”
Connelly has accepted a scholarship offer to play women’s university volleyball for McMaster Marauders next season.
“Ava played amazing,” Maga said. “She was able to gap her blocker and get a lot of success on her hitting.”
A former OUA all-star volleyball player for McMaster, Maga says her Grade 10 daughter is “critical to the team’s success.”
“It’s hard for me to talk about,” mom said, “but everyone around me is telling me how good she is. My friends from McMaster and the alumni that I hang out with have said ‘she is so good she could be setting on a university team right now.’”
Trailing 2-1 in sets, Tonnos took a big lead in the fourth (19-11) before managing to hang on for a 26-24 win.
Then, in the deciding set, the Titans raced to a 5-0 lead en route to a 15-10 victory.
“Abby Smith was clutch again for us on the serving line,” Maga said. “She serves with such confidence, choosing exactly the zones coach Dennis (Cerovac) tells her to.”
Smith has accepted a beach volleyball scholarship to Stetson University in DeLand, Fla.
Left side Emma Sukan was also a significant contributor for the Titans. Said Maga: “Emma spikes the ball so hard. She really came through when we needed points.”
Other Tonnos players include Maryn Petrie, Katie Malarczuk, Estelle Buist, Alyssa Cerovac, Kennedy Llewellyn, Olivia Solly, Eva Aleksa and Coralee Muco.
The season has one more event -- the annual Battle of Hamilton girls’ high school all-star volleyball game on April 11at Mohawk College. That’s a junior-senior doubleheader featuring the top players from the city’s Catholic and Public boards.