STM Knights Break BT Titans' Undefeated Streak

STM Knights Break BT Titans' Undefeated Streak
Posted on 12/22/2023

By Larry Moko
The Bishop Tonnos Titans senior girls’ volleyball team will be getting a present just in time for Christmas.
That’s when setter Avaya Maga returns home from Richmond, B.C. where she’s been training – as one of six Grade 10-12 athletes from Ontario -- with Volleyball Canada’s National Excellence Program.

Maga was a key member of the 2022-23 Tonnos squad that captured OFSAA gold at the AAA high school level in Barrie. She’s been experiencing a high-performance environment in B.C. since Labour Day and therefore has yet to play a Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic league game this season.

“She comes back Friday,” Tonnos coach Alvisia Maga said of her daughter. “She’s been training at the Olympic Oval. Avaya is still a student at our school and she’s coming back with the intention to play.”
Coach Maga made the comments after the St. Thomas More Knights defeated the visiting Titans 2-1 in a league matchup between the West Mountain neighbours. Each came into the contest tied for first place with a 5-0 record.

Tonnos won the league title last season. More took top honours the year before.

“It’s a good rivalry between us,” former Knights player and current More coach Faith Feeney said. “I graduated in 2022 when we won the city championship. It was a COVID year though, so they cancelled OFSAA.

“Tonnos always produces a good team. So do we. So this is a match we definitely looked forward to.”
Tonnos took the first set, 25-21, before More won the next two -- 25-23 and 25-16.

“They outplayed us for sure in set 3,” coach Maga said. “We made way more mistakes than they did.”
Said Feeney: “Our girls played awesome today. In the first set we were a little nervous. But after that we started to get all the pieces together. We didn’t let the pressure rattle us.”

One of the scoring leaders for More was veteran Raquel Lalli.

“What impressed me the most about her play was her decision making,” Feeney said. “I was telling her to look for spots on the open court, look for where they are not covering very well. She was able to capitalize on most of those.

“She was also doing a really good job serving.”

Sophie Clarke was another top point producer for the Knights.

For Tonnos, most of the scoring was done by Alyssa Cerovac and Maryn Petrie.

“For coach Dennis (Cerovac) and myself, we really just wanted to go to this side of Christmas with less than two losses,” coach Maga said. “We wanted to make sure we stayed in the top three because we know once Avaya gets back it’s a very different team, running a very different offence.”

The Titans have seven new players this season, including a pair of Grade 10 setters (Veronika Navarette and Ella Finocchio).

“I think they both have done very well,” Maga said. “For Grade 10 setters coming on to a team with high expectations, they are weathering the storm. They are playing a super high stressful role. Your performance needs to be fully on in terms of your intellectual capacity. The second you are off, everyone in the gym knows.”

Maga says it has been a long stretch of volleyball for the Titans with showcases on the weekend, rep on Sunday followed by back-to-back league games on Monday and Tuesday.

“It’s pretty tough,” she said. “They are probably looking forward to the rest.”

In other games Tuesday, the third-place St. John Henry Newman Cardinals edged the Bishop Ryan Celtics, 2-1, the St. Jean de Brebeuf Braves topped the St. Mary Crusaders, 2-1 and the ACMT Jaguars defeated the Cathedral Gaels, 2-0.