The Niagara Knights women's volleyball program extended their winning streak to two consecutive games Saturday afternoon when they defeated the St. Clair Saints (4-2, 4th OCAA West) in a rematch of last year's OCAA bronze medal match three sets to two. The victory improves the Knights to 4-1 on the season and puts them in sole possession of third place in the OCAA west division.
The highly anticipated matchup resulted in a thrilling 5 set match that saw both programs have the opportunity to win right down to the end. The first set saw the Knights rally back from a 21-15 deficit to score the next ten straight points to pull out the victory.
The second set proved to be troublesome for the Knights, who could not find an answer for the Saints' outside hitter Te-Anna Stephenson (Whitby, Ont.). The set was taken by the Saints 25-19, and the Knights needed an answer for the Saints' offensive attack immediately.
Thanks to some solid defensive play, the Knights would cruise to a 25-19 third set victory and put themselves in position for the victory. The victory would unfortunately have to wait, as the Knights would fail to capitalize on crucial opportunities late and drop the set a 25-23, this would force a fifth and final set to determine the victor between the two west division rivals.
The fifth set saw both programs trade their respective blows, keeping themselves in position to win the match. After a few clutch plays from Knights' captain Rachel Rivers (Cambridge, Ont.), the Knights would edge out the Saints in the final set 16-14.
When asked about his thoughts on the match, Knights' head coach Nathan Janzen praised his program's ability to execute what they worked on in practice. "After a fantastic week of practice, I am proud of how we executed our defensive systems today," said Janzen. "I am happy that all their hard work has rewarded us with a hard fought victory."
Leading the Knights offensively was their 4th year captain Rachel Rivers, who led her program with 19 kills. Rivers has been vital to the success of the Knights this season and will continue to be relied upon for performances such as this one.
Another impressive performance came from Knights' 1st year outside hitter Natasha Desjardins (Welland, Ont.), who was second on her team with 14 kills. The Knights hope that Desjardins can continue to develop and be a major piece of their program for years to come.
The Knights are back in action Wednesday, November 22nd when they travel to Toronto, Ont. to face off against the undefeated Humber Hawks (6-0, 1st OCAA West). Tip-off is scheduled for 6pm.