BY VOICE STAFF
The E.L. Crossley Cyclones have blown their way into the Ontario Federation Secondary Athletic Association (OFSAA) volleyball championships.
The team was in Sydenham this past weekend. The Cyclones played on Thursday and again Friday.
Co-coach Jessica Kropac said E. L. Crossley took the second entry to OFSAA and were seeded 15th before entry. This is the first time in over 15 years the team has advanced to the OFSAA championships.
This past season the Cyclones won 23 games and lost only three in all games, including tournament, said Co-coach Michelle Gibson. They played undefeated in the Zone 3 Finals.
“We are just so excited for the opportunity to [have] competed,” Kropac said. “These boys have put in an incredible amount of work all season and deserve a chance to compete at the elite level.”
Team Captain and Setter Ethan Mergl said he was excited to be attending the tournament.
“I have been in numerous high school sports for four years and this is the first time I have had an opportunity such as this. Since this is my last year in high school, this is an opportunity to go out strong.”
Grade 11 student Forest Turpel was also “pretty excited” to be participating in the competition.
“We have a great team culture. We are friends on and off the court and I think that was key to our success.”
Mergl agreed with Turpel and said, “We work well together and built good chemistry throughout the year. Hard work and friendship amongst the team go hand-in-hand.”
“Michelle and I are so proud of not only their accomplishments as athletes, but the sportsmanship and maturity they have exhibited all season,” said Kropac. “It is so rewarding as a coach to work with such a thoughtful group of students. It makes all of the hours we put in as coaches totally worthwhile.”
This year’s graduating athletes include Mitch Waldt, Lucas Fast, Tyler Dobbie, John Higenell, Josh Lahn and Hayden Stewart.
Gibson has been coaching volleyball for the past 22 years, while Kropac has been coaching for six years.
At the end of the second day of competition the team had finished third in their pool and advanced to the consolation quarter finals. After defeating Monsignor Percy Johnson, a higher-seeded team, they advanced to the semifinals, where they faced St. Michael’s, the third- seeded team in the tournament (Crossley was seeded 15th).
“The boys rose to the occasion and played the best match they have,” said Kropac, on Sunday after returning home. “They won the first two sets but in the third set the momentum shifted and the boys lost a heartbreaker 25-21. St Michael’s went on to win the next two sets and the boys were eliminated from the competition.”
Overall, Kropac said that the team finished ranked either 11th or 12th in the AA division in Ontario.
“Michelle and I are so proud of the boys’ accomplishments, and are happy to have had the opportunity to end our season at OFSAA.”