With their collective backs against the wall, on February 11 and 12, the Cambrian Golden Shield women came out swinging. And as any good volleyball coach will tell you, it’s almost always a good idea to keep swinging, in order to enjoy success in this sport.
The Golden Shield looked to be something of a long-shot to squeeze their way into the 2016-2017 playoff picture, quite likely needing a road sweep of the St Clair Saints (12-6) and Fanshawe Falcons (10-8) to keep their slim hopes alive.
Consider, for a moment, that the Cambrian crew sported a record of 7-9 entering the weekend, and had lost to both the Saints and Falcons when they travelled to Sudbury back in early November.
Once again, coach Dale Beausoleil and company have pulled a rabbit out of the hat. Things really got rolling in the second set Saturday in Windsor, as Cambrian spotted St Clair a 25-15 win, but stormed back to knock off the Saints 25-16, 25-22, 25-16.
Balanced ball distribution was key, as the likes of Jillian Vallier (10), Hayley Chisholm (10), Kailey Bastien (9) and Amanda Kring (9) all came through with key kills. That was enough to offset the one-two St Clair punch of Angela Evans (13) and Kaila Crough (8), as no other member of the Saints recorded more than two kills.
Buoyed by the win, the Golden Shield needed only four sets to dispose of the Falcons on Sunday afternoon, outscoring their London opponents 27-25, 22-25, 25-21, 25-21. Vallier was back at the top of the offensive stats again versus Fanshawe, leading Cambrian with 15 kills, while rookie Emily Clark was also extremely effective with 11.
Shield setter Kendra Muffo continued to spray the ball around nicely, with Bastien, Kring and Chisholm joining in with nine, five and four kills respectively. The Falcons were paced at the net by the trio of Meghan Morelli (13), Libby Furtado (11) and Renee McCormick (10) as the northern women posted their second consecutive “must-win” triumph.
Finishing at 9-9, the Golden Shield edged out the Sheridan Bruins (8-10) for the sixth and final playoff spot. A tie with the Bruins would have favoured Sheridan, who won one additional set in their head to head battles with Cambrian.
Beausoleil will now prepare his team for a cross-over match with the 3rd place team in the East Division, travelling to Barrie to face the Georgian Grizzlies on Sunday, February 19 at 1:00 p.m.