Bears back on top
Laura Reimer jumps for joy between teammates Claire Weaver and Courtney Cridland during the NSSAA senior girls volleyball final at Valley Heights Thursday. The Bears defeated the four-time defending champion Holy Trinity Titans 3-1 (25-21, 23-25, 25-22, 25-21). JACOB ROBINSON/Simcoe Reformer
It had been six long seasons since the Valley Heights Bears senior girls volleyball team reigned atop the NSSAA mountain.
That run came to an end Thursday as the Bears – undefeated in county play – captured the title over Holy Trinity 3-1 (25-21, 23-25, 25-22, 25-21) at home before a raucous crowd.
Valley Heights came within a few points of the 2017 crown but ultimately left empty-handed. This year's roster didn't leave anything to chance – their first lost set of the season came on Thursday.
“We've been waiting for this moment all season long – for two seasons we've been waiting for this,” said Valley's Jessica Doerksen. “(Holy Trinity) played really well, we were super happy to play a really good team like them.”
The underdog Titans showed everyone they came to play by staying close the whole first set and then shocking the Bears by winning the second. Just when it looked like Valley was on the ropes, they were able to right the ship and win out.
“I think we just knew we needed to play harder – we weren't playing our best at the start so we just swung harder, got more blocks and digged better,” said Doerksen.
Throughout the night it became painfully evident what a county title means to the Bears and their fans – when the final point was made the girls were beside themselves as the spectators nearly brought the house down.
“I think it was really sentimental for me, especially because it's my last year, my last home game,” said Doerksen, whose dad Bryan helps coach the team alongside Terry Reimer. “It was really surreal.”
One of the main reasons the Titans gave the Bears such a good run was the service of Makayla Benz. You could almost hear a groan from the VHSS faithful each time HT's No. 14 stepped to the line as she seemed to rack up points at will.
“This is probably the best I've served in a really long time,” said Benz, who credited her team for a strong effort.
“When we came here we were ready to win, we wanted to win so when we went on the court we gelled really well together and everyone was talking and keeping everything upbeat.”
The Titans won't have to go far for the CWOSSA double-A tournament – it's being hosted by both Holy Trinity and Simcoe Feb. 21-22. Benz hopes the Titans can keep an optimistic attitude during the event.
“(We want to) keep up our good effort, cheering, talking and staying up in a positive mood instead of getting down on ourselves when we lose one point,” she said.
The Bears will return to the single-A event they won last season in Breslau Feb. 22. Doerksen said her team will be keeping things simple in the hopes of securing a second straight OFSAA appearance,
“I think we're just going to focus our practices on getting back to the basics because that's the best way we play when we're getting back to the basics,” she said. “We might throw in a couple tricks but we're just excited to keep going.”