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Wolves repeat as WECSSAA senior girls volleyball champs

 The North Star Wolves have once again captured the WECSSAA “AA” senior girls volleyball championship.

The Wolves defeated the Belle River Nobles 25-15, 25-10 and 25-11 last Thursday evening in the finals at St. Clair College to win the title. That is the second in as many years under the North Star banner, and fifth overall dating back to the program’s roots at General Amherst High School.

The Wolves overcame a slow start and pulled away in the first set and took command of the match in the next two to complete the sweep. The Wolves were 8-0 in WECSSAA Tier 1 regular season play while Belle River was 8-1 in Tier 2.

“It was a challenge for Belle River to come up from Tier 2,” believed North Star head coach Jeff Miller.

Miller said the speed of the match was a factor, even for the Wolves, but once North Star got used to it, they were able to take over.

“It took us a while to adapt to the game but when we got used to the different speed level, we got more comfortable as the match went on,” said Miller.

Miller was pleased the team won another WECSSAA title, noting the roster turnover from year-to-year but this year’s players able to get another win. The Wolves are missing two of their best players – Addison Prieur and Lillian Mereszak with season-ending knee injuries – but the remaining players have adapted to new roles.

“Other than our outside hitters, our players are playing out of position,” said Miller.

Assistant coach Mary Ewer pointed out not only was it the fifth straight WECSSAA title, but 14th since she and Miller started coaching the program.

“I’m so proud of them,” said Ewer. “They did an amazing job.”

Co-captains Lauren Essenpreis and Emily Beauregard accepted the championship plaque.

“We never played Belle River before,” said Essenpreis, adding they were prepared nonetheless.

Beauregard said it felt “amazing, so good” to win the championship. She said the team has had its challenges this season due to injuries.

“We had so many players step up,” added Essenpreis. “Everyone worked together and we reached our goal.”

The Wolves fought off the Riverside Rebels last Tuesday night in the semi-finals. North Star needed four sets, winning 25-14, 25-15, 16-25 and 25-17.

“I thought we played fantastic in the first two sets,” said Miller. “Our level of play dropped considerably in the third set and Riverside played really well.”

The Wolves played to their personnel, he added, and finished the match the way they are capable of playing.

North Star now sets their sights on another goal, and that is the SWOSSAA “AA” championship. The regional volleyball championship will take place on the road against Lambton Central Collegiate & Vocational Institute (LCCVI) Feb. 21. LCCVI won their league title with a 25-18, 25-23, 23-25 and 25-17 win over Wallaceburg last Friday.

By Ron Giofu

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