Regular season wraps up; playoffs next week
Déjà vu is what the Vanier Vikings were feeling on Tuesday evening.
© Katie Brickman
Zak Konopaki of the Vanier Vikings attacks the net and gets the ball to go past Inyota Mwunvaneza (8) and Joey Guretzki (9) of the Caronport Cougars during senior boys volleyball league action on Tuesday evening in Caronport. Times-Herald photo by Katie Brickman
The senior boys volleyball team were successful last week in coming back from being down two sets to Avonlea. However, after going up two sets, they couldn’t finish off the Caronport Cougars.
The momentum swung in the third set and the “air got sucked out of the building” for the Vikings. The Cougars battled back for the 3-2 (22-25, 16-25, 25-21, 25-17, 15-12) victory.
“It was an ideal start for us. We carried over the things we did right against Avonlea and brought them into the first two sets,” said Levi Broda, coach for Vanier. “We had first hand experience last week that we could sense when things were turning around and now we were on the negative side. We tried to make as many adjustments as possible to fix that, but we came up short.”
This was a big win for the Cougars, as it was the first time since the second week of the season that they had their full roster of players. The team has been using a jumbled line up throughout the season, but welcomed back two of their key players in the final regular season game.
“This is pretty big, especially this time of the year. It is playoff time,” said Shane Sowden, coach for Caronport. “We had two of our main guys that have been missing for quite a long time, so you could tell that the first two sets were just getting them back into the swing.”
The turning point was that third set when Vanier was ahead and had the opportunity to bury the Cougars in straight sets, but Caronport never gave up.
“Something switched in the third set and we started playing like the way we can. We started hitting more, we started passing and volleyball is a game of energy,” said Sowden. “In that third set, we just started to be more positive and encouraging with each other. We started celebrating everything. We just made the decision to not be negative when something bad happens. Just encourage everything and as soon as we made that switch to focus on the positive, something ignited in the guys.”
The positive energy the Cougars developed turned into a sour note for the Vikings. After two fairly clean sets, the wheels essentially came off for Vanier.
“The turning point really was on Caronport’s side. I really feel like that instead of making any many errors, they were digging balls up and we didn’t adjust well to that,” explained Broda. “They started to make us earn our points and then we were the ones making the unforced errors. That was the big turning point.”
They began to make mistakes at the service line and allowed the ball to fall into open spaces. The Vikings served well through the opening sets and forced Caronport into making errors, as they couldn’t always control the serves. That changed when the Cougars made the adjustments on their side.
“We have been telling the boys all year that if we serve tough, we are going to get a lot of teams out of their rhythm. We have been doing a really good job of that,” said Broda. “Today, we served so hard, so tough that we forgot about just getting the ball in. On that end of the spectrum, we really hurt us.”
In other senior boys action, Central beat Avonlea in three straight sets (25-11, 25-14, 25-12).
The Cougars finished third in the league and will play Peacock in a semifinal game. The Vikings will face off against Avonlea in the fifth versus fourth match up.
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