Cardinals Advance to Volleyball Final

Cardinals advance to volleyball championship
Cardinals advance to volleyball championship
Posted on 11/08/2023

By Larry Moko

The senior boys’ volleyball team from St. John Henry Newman Catholic Secondary School is really going places.

It begins Thursday when they take part in the 2023 Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic Athletic Association championship game.

Then, in March, regardless whether the Cardinals qualify for the OFSAA championship in Belle River, the Newman team has planned a trip to Hawaii for a volleyball tournament.

Second-place Newman punched its ticket for the league title game with a 3-0 victory over the fourth-place ACMT Jaguars Tuesday. In the other semifinal, the first-place St. Thomas More Knights topped the third-place Bishop Ryan Celtics, 3-0.

“We’ve won two championships in a row and we’re looking to go for a third,” Newman coach Brian Pavlic said.

Thursday’s contest against the Knights will be held at the More gym beginning at 5:30 p.m.

“This is a special year for us,” Pavlic explained. “We’re taking the team to Hawaii for a tournament during the March break. I’m not saying we’re representing Canada, but we’re going there for a tournament.

“I took my senior girls team from Bishop Tonnos back in 2011. And I know the organizers. To my knowledge this is a first for the boys.”

The team has been fund-raising to help with costs. At the Newman senior football game last Friday, for example, the volleyballers sold popcorn. The team has also worked at bagging groceries, selling meat and running a barbeque.

“It should be fun,” Pavlic’s son Nathaniel said of the international trip.

Nathaniel, a Grade 12 student, is captain of the team.

“We have a great group of boys,” coach Pavlic said. “I’ve been coaching some of them since Grade 5. A lot of these guys are seniors, so what better way to top it off than a nice trip to Hawaii for them.”

Nathaniel has already achieved success at the rep level in volleyball. He was a libero for the provincial 17U gold-medal winning Halton Hurricanes last season. That team then went on to place fifth at the national finals in Calgary.

“I’m a lib for Halton and a left side for school,” Nathaniel said. “I try to work on everything, especially my defence. I’m not the tallest player, so hitting is not my strong suit.”

Nathaniel was one of the points leaders for Newman in the semifinal. Other top scorers included left side Anthony Rotella and right side Nathan Nikolic.

Said Pavlic: “Nathan Nikolic is one of our strongest hitters. He’s a force. When he gets a hold of that ball I don’t think anyone can really stop him.”

The Cardinals defeated the Jaguars 25-6, 25-19 and 25-22.

“ACMT has always been a really good defensive team,” the Newman coach said.

The son of Jaguars’ junior and senior coach Dave Perron, Matthew, played for the two Newman championship squads. He’s currently a setter for the Niagara College Knights.

More won its semifinal by scores of 25-17, 25-13 and 25-18.

Said Pavlic: “We beat STM in a tournament once and they beat us twice in league play. The team that makes the fewest mistakes will win the championship.”