Lady Gens capture WECSSAA championship; fall in SWOSSAA finals

By Joel Charron

It’s been a week of ups and downs for the General Amherst Sr. Lady Gens Volleyball team.

On Thursday night, Christine Belcher led the Lady Gens in a near flawless three game sweep over the Essex Red Raiders to capture Amherst’s sixth straight WECSSAA AA volleyball championship.

General Amherst Lady Gens volleyball team won their sixth straight WECSSAA title Thursday night. The Lady Gens then lost the SWOSSAA championship to the John McGregor Panthers in five games.

The Lady Gens dominated the first game and won 25-14. The second game the gritty Essex squad fought back as both team went back and forth before Amherst eventually pulled ahead and took the game 25-19.

Game three saw a controversial call turn Amherst’s way after an apparent Essex point was reversed and given to the Lady Gens, late in the game.

The Essex coach argued the call, however the call stood and Amherst took game three 25-16.

“After the first game I calmed down and everyone else calmed down and we just played volleyball,” said Belcher, who won her second WECSSAA championship as a senior.

Belcher said experience is a factor in big games like this.

Experience is something that the Lady Gens have as a number of players have won OFSAA AA gold around their neck as well as playing travel volleyball.

Following Thursday’s game coach Jeff Miller said the Lady Gens had to bring their “A game” if they hoped to defeat the John McGregor Panthers Monday for their fifth SWOSSAA championship in six years.

For two straight games the Lady Gens game was in top form, easily defeating the visiting Panthers 25-15 and 25-13.

All signs pointed to another Amherst championship.

In the third game Amherst moved ahead 5-2, however the Lady Gens began to make unforced errors, which gave the Panthers life. The Panthers put together a string of points.

The rejuvenated John McGregor team won the next three games 25-23, 25-23, 15-10.

John McGregor will grab OFSAA’s highest seed for a SWOSSAA team while the Lady Gens will sneak in as SWOSSAA’s second representative.

“Nothing surprises me anymore,” said coach Jeff Miller, after Thursday’s loss. “We went brain dead in the third set and started making a bunch of careless errors which gave them life and turned the whole momentum of the match around.”

Miller added that Sarnia St. Patrick had the right to challenge Amherst for the second SWOSSA spot but said he was informed earlier in the day that they would not.

“Hopefully they can learn from this,” said Miller. “When we get put under the gun, we hope they can react better than that.

Amherst’s Alyssa Garrett said after the first two games the Lady Gens’ defense began to relax, which ultimately let the Panthers back into the match.

“We’re disappointed right now,” said a visibly upset Garrett. “We’ve played them in tournaments before and beat them but they had a good game today.”

Garrett said that nerves played a part in their loss, stating that some of the girls were “jittery” after the third set loss.

Amherst will travel to Nepean, ON next week for the OFSAA senior girls AA volleyball championships where they hope to win their third straight OFSAA championship.

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