It’s good to be king.
The Saugeen District Royals senior boys volleyball squad remained perfect on their way to the Bluewater Athletic Association championship in Owen Sound.
The Royals won every set in both the semifinal and final on Thursday to take the crown.
“I think we were fairly confident,” said head coach Al Gundrum of his team’s mindset heading into the two-game championship tournament. “If we took care of the ball on our side of the court we were going to be OK.”
The Royals were 6-0 in the regular season, topping all South Division teams. Their first test in the semifinal on Thursday was the undefeated Owen Sound District Wolves, 6-0 themselves atop the North Division and hosting the championship tournament.
Saugeen wasted no time taking an early 16-6 lead before the Wolves took a timeout in the first set.
The Royals cleaned up everything hit their way by the Wolves and sent it back with force.
Nolan Dereski, Nathan Van Myall and Sam Maksymyk made their living at the net while team captain Luc Nusselder set up the plays for the Royals.
That combination held court as Saugeen wrapped up the first set 25-9.
The Wolves got a little nastier in the second set, but the Royals were able to take it 25-12 with Nusselder finishing Owen Sound off with back-to-back points off the serve.
Finally, in the third set, the Wolves forced the Royals to take a timeout as they rallied to an 18-18 tie. Saugeen knocked off the next five straight points before winning 25-20 to take the match in straight sets.
“My team has put in a lot of extra time in training and playing outside of the school year. I think that experience makes a difference,” said Gundrum.
The Walkerton Riverhawks were waiting on the Royals in the championship. New BAA playoff rules this year resulted in the top-seeded CWOSSA qualifier receiving a bye to the final.
Despite a 1-5 record in the regular season the Riverhawks didn’t look out of place against the Royals in the final.
Strong net play by Evan Visser and Ethan Cudney had Walkerton District neck-and-neck with the Royals until midway through the first set when Dereski took over.
He drove the ball through the Riverhawks defence as the Royals broke away. Dereski’s rocket of a spike for the Royals 25thpoint put an exclamation point on Saugeen’s first set victory.
The Riverhawks came to play. In the second set Walkerton seemed to frustrate the Royals into unforced errors and long serves.
Once again Gundrum took a timeout with the score tied 18-18.
“We had to refocus on our goal and limit our errors, you can’t be too conservative when you’re playing, you have to be aggressive. Errors are part of the game, but you can’t let them turn the game on you,” the coach said.
The move worked. The Royals came back on the floor and went on a 7-1 run to take the second set 25-19.
The fight then faded away from Walkerton. The Royals cruised to a third and final set win, 25-12. Maksymyk’s drive ended the game and started the medal ceremony.
The Royals will now try and defend their CWOSSA Boys ‘AA’ Volleyball title starting on Nov. 14 in Simcoe.
Owen Sound District will represent the BAA at the CWOSSA Boys ‘AAA’ Volleyball Championship in Waterloo on Nov. 15.
Walkerton District is headed to the CWOSSA Boys ‘A’ Volleyball Championship tournament in Breslau.