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Central Jr. Rams Sweep to HP Gold

The future of Rams volleyball is bright after a straight-set HP Championship

A deep and talented Rams squad out-duelled the St. Michael Warriors 26-24 in the opening set, then swept its way to the championship with wins of 25-15 and 25-20 in front of a raucous crowd at Central.

“I think we could really kick-start the program again,” said Andrew Linley, one of the Rams’ coaches. “We’ve got some really enthusiastic coaches and the kids are really keen. We had a great turnout this year with 15 kids, and a ton of talent. And they’re really coachable kids that take instruction well and stay positive.”

The Rams went 10-0 in matches (20-3 in sets) to finish first in the regular season, then swept Central Huron and St. Mary 3-0 in quarter-finals and semifinals respectively on Tuesday at the Stratford Burnside Agriplex.

Linley said it’s been a team effort all season.

“One thing about our team is we’ve got a lot of depth,” he said. “The guys all have a role and they stepped up at different times.”

Winning the opening set Thursday was “hugely important” Linley said.

“We were just trying to get the kids to breath. They were sailing the ball out of the back of the court. That’s what you have to do in order to win volleyball matches is win those long, close sets.”

Central last won a Huron-Perth junior boys volleyball title in 1993, the same year the senior team’s eight-year reign as Huron-Perth champions ended.

The following year, Linley captained St. Michael to that school’s first-ever senior boys volleyball title with a 15-8, 15-5 sweep of the Rams, signalling a changing of the guard in the sport. St. Mike’s has been in eight straight conference finals and won six, including a sweep of Central on Thursday.

The junior Rams qualify for the WOSSAA AA championships next week in Ingersoll. Linley said the Rams had good results against some top schools at a recent tournament at Kitchener Cameron Heights, but has no idea how the team might fare at WOSSAA.

“We’re really trying to work toward building our senior program in a couple of years, but it would be amazing to take WOSSAA, for sure,” he said.

Excerpt from Stratford Beacon Herald