TORONTO, ON: For the second time this season, Hamilton's Mohawk Mountaineers almost did something that has not been done in the last 150 OCAA regular season and playoff matches involving the Humber Hawks women's volleyball team. And, that is knock off the 10-time OCAA champion Hawks. The first was in Hamilton earlier this year, as the Mountaineers ran out to a 2-0 set lead and held a lead in the third and possibly last set. Humber responded to win three straight sets to take the match and keep the streak alive.
CUT TO THURSDAY NIGHT...
The latest instalment of the Hawks improbable comebacks came on the opening day of the 2018 OCAA Women's Volleyball Championships. In the quarter-finals of the event being held at Centennial College, Mohawk once again sped out to a 2-0 lead and had victory within their sights. They actually led in the early twenties of the third set before Humber battled back to win 25-21. The fourth set was all Hawks, as they dominated the set from start to finish, setting up the fifth and deciding set.
The Humber squad, at least at the beginning of the fifth gave the Hawk faithful a chance to take a breath as they ran out to a huge lead, and led 8-2 at the turn. Give Mohawk full marks for battling back, and they got to within three as Humber hit the 10 point mark. Just as they did in the two previous sets, Humber found another gear and carried the match home.
SCOREBOARD: HUMBER (23, 21, 25, 25, 15) MOHAWK (25, 25, 21, 14, 9)
Thinking back, especially to the three consecutive set wins, a number of things come to mind. First, was a couple of incredible serving runs by veteran Brynne Coleman. The effort by Celine Blanchette, who was inserted into the lineup brought huge dividends. Kyla Wilkins stood tall, digging balls and keeping the Hawks on offence. If the players mentioned above set the stage, newly named All Canadian Breanna Golding put her stamp on the win, delivering many devastating kills along the way. I would be remiss if I did not mention the leadership shown by fifth-year captain Devan O'Connor, who rallied the troops, even when they were at their lowest level.
With the win, the Hawks advance to the OCAA Semi-Finals on Friday night. They will meet up with another West Division team, in the St. Clair Saints. The first serve is scheduled for 8:00 pm.
"It truly was a battle", said Hawks head coach Chris Wilkins. "Our girls never gave up, and fought their way back against a very talented Mohawk team. As much as I knew our backs were to the wall, I always felt we had a chance to win".
Golding led both teams in kills and total points on the night, scoring 24 points, with 23 coming via the kill. Three other Hawks hit for double digits. Devan O'Connor was next in line with 14 points, while Nicole Collard and Jasmine Lougheed checked in with 11 and 10 points, respectively. Of note, Collard and O'Connor each had five service aces. Mohawk had three players in double figures, with former Hawk Kelsey Kovar leading the way with 17 points.
Breanna Golding was selected as the Humber Player of the Game.