MSS boys triumph at the NOSSA volleyball finals

The Mustangs boys’ volleyball team poses with their NOSSA Championship gold medals and banner. photo by Sandi Kuntsi

M’CHIGEENG— On November 17, the Manitoulin Secondary School (MSS) boys’ volleyball team hosted the Northern Ontario Secondary School Association (NOSSA) Volleyball Championships. Coached by Peter Kategiannis and managed by Sydney Koehler, the team of 10 boys have continued to be undefeated in their quest for the Ontario Championship banner.

The MSS Mustang boys’ volleyball team consists of Brandon Boyle, Parker Dickinson, Greg Doane, Bryce Draper, Devin Gelaznikas, Dylan Francis, Zach Kategiannis, Cole King, Matthew Redmond, James Scott and Tait Wallace.

Four schools competed at the NOSSA Championships: Manitoulin Secondary, Franco-Nord, Espanola High (EHS), and Notre Dame Catholic Secondary.

The first match was between Espanola and MSS. The starting lineup for MSS was James Scott, Tait Wallace, Greg Doane, Devin Gelaznikas, Parker Dickinson and Dylan Francis. MSS won the first set 25-16, and the second set 25-13. The second game was between Franco-Nord and Notre Dame. Franco-Nord won the first set 25-18, but Notre Dame won the second set 25-23 and the third set 15-5.

The third game was between Notre Dame and MSS. Notre Dame won the first set 25-20, then MSS won the second set 25-23. MSS fought for the win in the third set, coming through with a 15-10 score. This game qualified MSS for the finals.

The fourth game was between Franco-Nord and Espanola. Franco-Nord won the first set 25-22, Espanola won the second set 25-23, and the third set 18-16. The fifth game was between MSS and Franco-Nord. MSS controlled the entire match, winning the first set 25-19, and the second set 25-10. The sixth game, the final game of the round-robin, would determine who would move on to the finals: EHS or Notre Dame. The game was very close, Notre Dame won the first set 25-22, Espanola won the second set 25-23, and the battle ended when Espanola won the third set 17-15.

After the game Chord Beautin, a volleyball player from Notre Dame, said, “I had a really good time today. The competition was really good, and both of the teams going to finals definitely deserve to be there. Playing against the Mustangs was awesome, because they really pushed us to our limits.”

After the round-robin, Referee Dani Gastalbo said, “There is a lot of well-balanced competition here today. In a lot of cases, the teams who won a match could have very easily lost.”

As the Espanola Spartans and MSS Mustangs warmed up, Coaches Vermeer (EHS) and Kategiannis (MSS) watched their teams, looking nervous but proud. Coach Vermeer said, “The tournament and each team have been very good competition. My only complaint is the outdated music.” Laughing, he also praised his team, “My team has exceeded my expectations in every way. Sure they lost some games, but they never failed to impress me.”

When the game started at 5pm, the full house of Mustangs fans cheered and clapped. The first set started off with several good rallies, but passed quickly with the Mustangs winning 25-16. The second game was also close, but MSS poured their hearts into the game, Parker Dickinson scoring the winning point, bringing the score to 25-21. As the point was put onto the scoreboard, the Mustangs team cheered and celebrated, hugging each other. Both teams had huddles with their coaches before lining up for the Medal Ceremony.

Coach Kategiannis held the NOSSA Championship banner as he gave the silver medals to Coach Vermeer. Coach Vermeer asked if he could just touch the banner, making everyone in the gym laugh. He gave each player on his team their medal and hugged them. After the Espanola team had shaken hands with the Mustangs, Coach Kategiannis presented his team with their gold medals. Announcing their name, nickname, and hugging each of the champions, Mr. Kategiannis was beaming with pride. The Mustangs finished shaking hands with the Spartans, and Mr. Kategiannis thanked everyone who attended, especially Espanola High School.

The teams separated for their respective team pictures, both celebrating their achievements. Wyatt Fremlin, a player on the Espanola team, said, “I think that throughout the entire day, we did a really good job. Our first match against the Mustangs was rough, but we held our own through the whole day. We just couldn’t hold out against the Mustangs in the finals. I am so proud of my team. We progressed so much from the start of the season, and making it as far as NOSSA was big enough in itself.”

Greg Doane, the captain of the Mustangs, said, “I think we played the whole tournament with a lot of confidence. The confidence from winning NSSSA carried over to NOSSA, resulting in our qualification for OFSAA. Words can’t even describe how excited I am to be competing at OFSAA. This team has had a dream of competing at provincials since grade nine. It was the same group of guys as now, and we finally reached that goal.”

Coach Kategiannis said, “We went undefeated this tournament, so I would say we did a really good job. Our goal today was to qualify for OFSAA, and we achieved that goal. This team has made me proud. This is one of the best well-rounded teams I have coached. There are no specific superstars, because everyone is good at everything. It is always a pleasure to attend OFSAA. It is a lot of fun competing against the best teams in the entire province. I am not just going to OFSAA to spectate. I am going to win a medal with my team.”

The OFSAA 2016 volleyball championships are in North Bay this weekend. The boys from the team are buzzing with excitement. As they travel to North Bay, they can be certain the entire Island will be cheering for them.