By Ashleigh Darrach
The Humber women's volleyball team won gold at the Niagara Fall Classic pre-season exhibition tournament Sunday.
The tournament started with Humber playing Mohawk College on Saturday morning. Humber took the game 3 sets to 0.
Head coach, Chris Wilkins and Assistant coach Dean Wylie were absent for the weekend, so Mandi Doris and Taylor Hutchinson stressed "sending the right message" to other OCAA opponents in the league right off the bat.
With level-headed play, Humber was able to keep Mohawk to a low score for the first two sets of the match. In the third set, inconsistencies would be an adversity for the Hawks as they squeeze out with a tight win.
The final scores for the Mohawk game were 25-16, 25-11, 25-22.
After a short break, Humber was set to take on George Brown College. George Brown was an unfamiliar opponent for Humber as they do not compete in regular season against one another and haven't crossed paths in playoffs in many years.
Humber's energy was very low to start off the set. A missed serve and poor pass on the first ball would prove to set the tone for the entire match.
George Brown was capitalizing on heavy legs from Humber by playing them with tips and rolls. The Hawks, frustrated tried to regain focus but dropped the first set 26-24.
After some brief deliberating Humber came back with a slightly better mentality, still struggling to keep their normal aggression that they are infamous for. The score of the second set was 25-14.
Although the flow got better in the third set, (25-10 ) Humber could not seem to stay consistent with their play, and almost dropped the fourth set 25-23. The Hawks were scrambling for balls and not talking on their defense, and becoming very frustrated with one another.
Humber played the Canadore Panthers on Sunday morning, who were another unfamiliar opponent. The Hawks were determined to make this game better, after ending on a frustrating note the previous day.
The energy felt much better right from warm-up. The Hawks were flowing well and communicating.
Two injuries would shorten the bench for the Hawks during the Canadore match. First years, Julia Watson and Celine Blanchette were injured before the second half of the first match of the day.
Humber battled through the injuries, and came together as a group to allow them to sweep the Panthers 3 sets to 0.
Serving was a key asset during the match as Breanna Golding served nearly an entire set. The Hawks were ready to return every ball that Canadore sent over the net, and the Panthers failed to pass the serve from Golding.
The final scores of the Canadore game were: 25-10, 25-2, 25-21.
Undefeated so far, the Hawks advance to the gold medal match at 3pm against the Fanshawe Falcons. The last time Humber saw Fanshawe was in the semi-final nail biter at the OCAA provincial championships last season.
Humber came out with aggression and energy in the match and were serving very aggressively. Fanshawe was responding with great digs and serve reception, but were unable to successfully execute against Humber's block.
At times, the Hawks became slightly frantic and lacked communication in the back row, but managed to regain the level of play that allowed them to be successful on defense.
During the second set of the match, Humber only missed one serve, which allowed them to dominate the tempo of the match against the Falcons.
The battle of the birds went to the Humber Hawks, as they captured their first gold medal of the season.
The final scores of the set were as follows: 25-14, 25-22, 25-19.
Humber has the weekend off to recover, but will head to Windsor at the end of the month for their final exhibition play.