On a weekend filled with NOSSA memories, no match might have proved quite as compelling as the NOSSA AA Senior girls volleyball final between the Lo-Ellen Park Knights and Lockerby Vikings.
The teams, which have a great deal of trouble hiding their mutual disdain, had already clashed at various stages this year, with Lockerby always holding the upper hand.
That trend continued in round-robin play Feb. 22, as well as in the early stages of the championship final. But a two-set lead would evaporate for the Vikes as the Knights rallied for a 23-25, 23-25, 25-23, 25-22, 16-14 victory.
“It was one of the best finals I have been part of,” said Lo-Ellen head coach Tom Sutton. “Neither team blinked for more than two or three points during the entire match.
“It was pretty emotional. Both teams played exceptionally well.”
In fact, during the stretch of five hard-fought sets, at no point were the teams separated by more than four points. In volleyball terms, that is almost unheard of.
Give Lo-Ellen credit — they proved themselves a highly resilient crew.
Trailing two sets to none, the Knights fell behind 18-14 and 21-19 in the third set and trailed 13-10 in the fifth and deciding set.
Tough serving by both Gabby Pellerin and Kelsey Pitre helped limit the effectiveness of the potent Lockerby attack, with Lo-Ellen left-side Megan Flewelling on the final two kills in the lengthy two-and-a-half-hour marathon.
In a junior showdown in which the Knights were guaranteed a victory, the St. Mary’s Knights of Sault Ste. Marie upended the Lo-Ellen Park Knights in straight sets to take the NOSSA AA Junior title.
The senior Knights will not be the only local girls volleyball representatives heading to OFSAA.
Lockerby will join Lo-Ellen in Ottawa as a result of two berths being accorded this year to NOSSA, while the St. Charles College Cardinals travel to Windsor and the Marymount Regals head to Peterborough.
If the Sudbury volleyball faithful were thrilled with the drama of the Lockerby-Lo-Ellen match, Sooites were not that far behind with the NOSSA AAA volleyball title on the line.
Just as they had done in winning the SDSSAA city championship, the Cardinals battled from behind, overcoming the hometown Korah Colts 19-25, 25-17, 15-25, 25-5, 18-16 in punching their ticket to provincials.
It was one of the best finals I have ever been part of. Neither team blinked for more than two or three points during the entire match.
Lo-Ellen Park head coach
Meanwhile, the junior Cardinals atoned for a five-set loss to Lasalle with the SDSSAA banner on the line on Feb. 24, topping the Superior Heights Steelhawks 20-25, 26-24, 15-12.
Similar to the Lockerby seniors, Marymount advances to OFSAA as a second seed from NOSSA after dropping the A title game to the Chippewa Raiders (North Bay) in four sets.
The Horizon Aigles junior girls also finished second, falling to the Algonquin Barons in the NOSSA A junior girls finale.
Still on the court, the Lasalle Lancers came up short in the senior AAA basketball final, beaten 62-43 by the Korah Colts.
The Lockerby juniors claimed their crown with a 49-44 win over Superior Heights.
Anthony Iacoe was a one-man wrecking crew for the senior Colts, netting 32 points in leading Korah past Lasalle, with Jonah Fogg adding an even dozen.
Tyler Lozier paced the Lancers in a losing cause with a 15-point effort, with Alex Mobbs chipping in with 12. Adrian Kuchtaruk led the way for the Lockerby juniors, recording 17 points, with Ryan Faubert helping out with another 11.
Jake Cruise finished with a game high 22 for the junior Steelhawks.
In AA action in North Bay, the St. Basil’s Saints of Sault Ste. Marie cruised to a 77-51 win over Lockerby in the senior final while the junior Saints matched the efforts of their elder counterparts, stopping the Collège Notre-Dame Alouettes 50-36 in the gold-medal encounter.
Finally, more than 20 local wrestlers will leave for Guelph next week, taking part in the OFSAA wrestling championships after NOSSA wrapped up Feb. 21 at Macdonald-Cartier.
The following schools will all be represented:
-Lasalle Secondary: Andrew Paris, Joey Lapointe, Dustin Pretty, Brandon Jalbert, Dakota Pretty, Devin McComber, Tim Glasgow, Kyle Fletcher, Sara Lachance, Kole Paulin-Poitras, Taylor Montana and Sydney Henniger;
-Lo-Ellen Park Secondary: Logan Blanchard and Ella Proulx
-Ecole Secondaire MacDonald-Cartier: Jarred Lafond and Ethan Draper;
-Sudbury Secondary School: Billy Wylie and Erica Turcotte;
-Ecole Catholique Champlain: Joel Lamontagne;
-St. Benedict Catholic Secondary School: Alexandre Senechal;
-Chelmsford Valley District Composite School: Bauer Negrych;
-Confederation Secondary: Cheyenne Ziegler and Charlene Lapointe;
-Lockerby Composite School: Victoria Day;
-Collège Notre Dame: Alexie Legault and Amanda Dywer;
-Ecole Catholique du Sacré-Coeur: Emilie Charette and Sierra Howald.
Randy Pascal is the founder of SudburySports.com and a contributing sports writer for Northern Life.