Finding their second gear at just the right time in every set, the NDSS Junior Boys Volleyball Golden Hawks swept the Frontenac Falcons in the KASSAA quarter-finals to advance to the semifinals.
History was made on the first serve, as Tuesday’s game marked the first time NDSS’ junior boys volleyball program had ever hosted a KASSAA playoff game. The fourth seeded Hawks didn’t disappoint, taking care of the fifth seeded Falcons in the minimum amount of sets.
That’s not to say NDSS didn’t have its struggles however, as the Hawks found themselves trailing near the first half of every set in the must win quarter-final playoff.
“Some of the guys really felt it,” Hawks captain Dean Taylor said of having their entire season come down to a do-or-die playoff game. “They were saying they were really nervous. That might have played a bit of a part in it early on.”
Napanee treaded water for much of the first set, trading points with Frontenac with neither side building more than a three- point lead until the Hawks went up 22-17. They struggled to close out the set however as the Falcons went on a run to close the gap to 22-21. Just when their opponents seemed to have all the moment, NDSS’ Danny Gustavel finished off a long rally with a smash to put NDSS up 23-21. They never looked back, scoring the next two points and closing out the 25-21 win with an ace from Taylor.
In the second set Napanee again trailed through the midway point, falling behind 15-12. That’s when Jacob Boutillier stepped up.
He sparked a 9-0 run for the Hawks on the strength of his tricky float serves. That helped propel the Hawks to a 25-19 win.
The third was more of the same, with NDSS falling behind 15-12 once again before outscoring their opponents 13-4 the rest of the way to secure a 25-19 win and a sweep.
“I think we just started passing better,” Taylor said of the turn around in each set. “We started working as a team instead of as a one man team.”
Napanee will now face off against the top seeded Regiopolis-Notre Dame Panthers in this evening’s KASSAA semifinals, which get underway at 5:15 p.m. Regi was a perfect 10-0 in the regular season while Napanee was 7-3.
“That’ll be a really good game,” said Taylor. “We’ll have to show up to win in order to beat them. They’re a really good team. There’s somethings that we can improve on (from the quarter-finals) but it’s a good start for the playoffs.”
Though they’ll be in tough, anything can happen in a one game playoff.
The winner will advance to take on the winner of the KCVI and LaSalle semifinals, which also takes place this afternoon. The top two teams will play for the KASSAA title on Sunday at 1 p.m. at Queen’s University.
NDSS’ senior boys volleyball team was also involved in a quarter-final on Tuesday, however they were swept on the road by Sydenham. Napanee entered as the seventh seed, going 4-5 on the year taking on the second ranked Golden Eagles, who were 8-1.
NDSS’ junior girls basketball team also qualified for the playoffs but were eliminated by Regi. NDSS went 3-7 on the season to clinch the eighth seed.
The junior boys volleyball team is NDSS’ last one standing for the KASSAA fall season. The school’s athletic program will now turn its attention to the winter season, with tryouts already underway in some sports. The schedule is expected to be released in the coming weeks.