girls volleyball

General Amherst preparing for the return of the OFSAA “AA” volleyball championship



By Ron Giofu


Preparations are continuing for the return of the OFSAA “AA” volleyball championship to Amherstburg and Windsor.

General Amherst High School is hosting the tournament, but matches will be played not only at General Amherst but at the St. Clair College Sportsplex as well. Jeff Miller, a teacher and senior girls volleyball coach at General Amherst, said Amherst will host the consolation final as well as the bronze and gold medal games.

The tournament starts March 3, 2019 with the banquet at the St. Clair Centre for the Arts and actual game action runs from March 4-6. It is the second time that General Amherst has hosted OFSAA, the first time being in 2012.

Miller said they are trying to ensure that each team has to come to Amherstburg at least once for a game.

The 20-team tournament will see the champions of the 18 regional athletic associations in Ontario come to the area as well as a second team from the region that has last year’s champion. General Amherst will also play in the tournament as the host team.

“They know about it but I don’t think they understand what it entails yet,” said Miller.

The last time the General Amherst Lady Gens advanced to OFSAA was in 2015, meaning no members of the team the school will have next year will have played in the provincial tournament.

“We’ll have a pretty young team next year but a pretty decent team,” said Miller. “The biggest thing for us from a developmental standpoint is it makes our season three to four weeks longer.”

With OFSAA now a guarantee, Miller said that allows them to gain more practice time and obtain experience playing some of the top girls volleyball teams in Ontario.

“It’s going to help us for the following year,” he said.

The 2012 tournament received good reviews as people enjoyed the drive into Amherstburg and the experience of them being here. Miller and assistant coach Mary Ewer have been to ten OFSAA championships, and they would like to use their past experiences travelling to OFSAA as well as hosting OFSAA to make this tournament the best it can be.

“Ideally, we are trying to create a good experience for the 20 teams the will be coming here,” he said.

Miller said they will be seeking out sponsors in the coming months and will be using a lot of General Amherst students as volunteers during the tournament.

“We’re going to need 40-50 volunteers in all different aspects,” said Miller.

They are also planning to give out information on local restaurants and businesses to people visiting Amherstburg.

“A lot of people coming here have never been to this area before,” he said.

There will be approximately 300 players taking part in the 2019 OFSAA “AA” girls volleyball championship and Miller estimates upwards of 1,000 people coming in total when parents and other supporters are factored in.

Lady Gens volleyball team falls short versus Holy Names


By Ron Giofu


The General Amherst Lady Gens senior girls volleyball team had their first WECSSAA Tier 1 volleyball game after the Christmas break and they came out on the short end.

The Lady Gens hosted the Holy Names Knights last Thursday and lost two sets to one to drop their overall record to 1-5 on the Tier 1 season. The two teams played a tightly contested first set with Holy Names edging the Lady Gens 25-23.

General Amherst’s Bryanna France hits the ball back over the net during last Thursday’s match with Holy Names.

General Amherst came out flat in the second set, as they trailed 5-0 early en route to dropping the set 25-17. Holy Names looked to be in line for a sweep as they led 22-17 in the third set but the Lady Gens rallied and scored eight of the last nine points to win 25-23.

“It was OK,” Amherst head coach Jeff Miller, said of the match. “It was a game where we had a legitimate opportunity to win. It’s good that we at least got one set out of it.”

Miller said the Lady Gens had an opportunity to win the first set but couldn’t finish the Knights off.

“When the pressure was on to win the first set, we were more panicky than they were,” he said.

General Amherst’s Ramie Tytgat (2) and Reese Jones (8) go up for a block during WECSSAA volleyball action Jan.11 against Holy Names.

The win in the third set could prove to be important as Miller said all points matter in the battle for playoff positioning.

“Our effort has to be more consistent,” he said. “We play well for eight to ten point stretches, then poorly for 12-15 point stretches.”

The Lady Gens have to communicate and hustle consistently throughout matches. When things go poorly, “they other team can take it to you for a while.”

The Lady Gens hosted Essex Tuesday night after this issue went to press and host Tecumseh Vista Academy tonight (Jan. 17) at 4 p.m. They also play at Sandwich Thursday at 4 p.m. before wrapping up the regular season at home with a game against Sandwich next Monday at 5:20 p.m.

Lady Gens rebound after season opening volleyball loss



By Ron Giofu


After a season opening defeat at the hands of a strong Kingsville Cavalier team last Tuesday, the General Amherst Lady Gens senior girls volleyball team rebounded well two days later.

The Lady Gens lost 25-13, 25-10 and 25-8 in Kingsville but then swept the visiting Massey Mustangs 25-19, 25-22 and 25-15 in a match played at General Amherst High School to even their WECSSAA Tier 1 record at 1-1.

General Amherst’s Vanessa Pidutti spikes the ball during last Thursday evening’s senior girls volleyball match against Massey.

“We played much better today,” General Amherst head coach Jeff Miller said after Thursday’s match. “We played to our ability level. We played a much better defensive effort. We moved on defense and then we were more fluid on offence.”

Miller said the first game against Kingsville was tough as the Cavaliers return the bulk of their players from a team that went to OFSAA last season.

“We struggled and they jumped right on us and made us pay,” said Miller. “They gave us a serious kick in the butt.”
The Lady Gens rebounded well against a team in Massey that they thought going in they could beat if they played well.

Miller said they need Vanessa Pidutti and Emery Lucier, the latter a Grade 9 player, to be good outside hitters. They were able to be that against the Mustangs.

General Amherst went up against the Massey Mustangs last Thursday evening. Payton Laing hits the ball back across the net.

“(Thursday), they kind of dominated the game offensively. They didn’t make many errors and got a bunch of hits. They played the way they need to play if we want to get a bunch of wins.”

The Lady Gens’ success in Tier 2 last year moved them back up into the top tier this season but Miller said the program continues to develop. General Amherst hosts OFSAA next year and while they want to do well this season, the Lady Gens also have an eye for the future.

“We’re building for next year and beyond,” said Miller.

Lucier believed the Lady Gens played well Thursday, adding they “got better as the match went on.”

Emery Lucier spikes the ball over the outstretched arms of a Massey defender.

The Kingsville game was a difficult one, she stated, as she thought the team let the fact they were playing Kingsville get into their heads and drain their confidence before the match even started. She said she has been welcomed to the team as a Grade 9 player and enjoys the level of competition in senior girls volleyball.

“It’s harder but it’s going to challenge me and the team to play better,” she said.

Lucier added the focus is this season.

“I want to win,” she said.

The Lady Gens were at St. Joseph Tuesday after this issue went to press but have a 7 p.m. home game Thursday against Tecumseh Vista Academy.

General Amherst to host OFSAA girls volleyball tournament in 2019


By Ron Giofu


Some of the province’s top girls high school volleyball players are returning to Amherstburg, but not for another three years.

General Amherst High School has been approved to host the Ontario Federation of School Athletic Association (OFSAA) girls AA volleyball championship tournament in March 2019. The news was confirmed by Jeff Miller, the teacher/girls volleyball coach at General Amherst, who put the bid in this past April.

“You have to bid for it three years in advance,” said Miller. “I put (the bid) in through our SWOSSAA rep.”

Miller said the OFSAA AA volleyball tournament doesn’t come to southwestern Ontario that often, with northern Ontario and the Ottawa area hosting many of the provincial tournaments.

General Amherst also hosted the OFSAA AA girls volleyball championships in 2012.

“They try to spread it around. It depends on how many bids they get,” said Miller.

The girls volleyball program at General Amherst is in a rebuilding mode, Miller added, but there are some talented players currently in Grade 9 with some good athletes expected for next year. He said the team could be back ready to compete at a provincial level by 2019.


“The main thing for us is to give kids the opportunity,” said Miller. “We have to work with younger kids and build basic skills.”

By hosting OFSAA, the girls team has something to work for, he added.

The tournament will eventually need sponsorships and support, but Miller said that is something that will be asked for down the road. He said he hopes to coach the Amherst team and have a team of volunteers running the tournament once it actually begins.

Miller hopes to use three courts at the St. Clair College Sportsplex as well as the main gymnasium at General Amherst High School. The latter is where the bronze and gold medal games will be held.

“I want everyone to come into Amherstburg and visit at least once or twice,” said Miller.

There will be 20 teams in the tournament with the champions of all 18 regions in Ontario coming. General Amherst, as the host team, will also be in it, as well as a second team from the previous year’s gold medalist’s home region.

“The fact we’ve (hosted) before puts us in a good position to do a good job,” said Miller. “Our feedback last time was very positive.”

Miller said he would like to see the community get behind it as much as possible, including having elementary schools attend to see what high caliber girls volleyball is like.

The 2017 OFSAA tournament will be in Belleville while Mississauga hosts OFSAA in 2018.

Lady Gens come out of Christmas break with three-set loss to Villanova


By Ron Giofu


It wasn’t the way the General Amherst Lady Gens wanted to come out of the Christmas break, but they weren’t offering any excuses either.

The Lady Gens resumed WECSSAA Tier 1 senior girls volleyball action last Thursday evening against the Villanova Wildcats and dropped three straight sets. The Wildcats left the Amherst gym with a 26-24, 25-15 and 25-21 victory.

General Amherst's Dani Leroux (5) and Sydney Emerson (3) attempt to block a Villanova shot at the net during senior girls volleyball action Jan. 7. Villanova swept all three sets.

General Amherst’s Dani Leroux (5) and Sydney Emerson (3) attempt to block a Villanova shot at the net during senior girls volleyball action Jan. 7. Villanova swept all three sets.

The Lady Gens played well in the first game but not as well in the next two, prompting frustration from the team’s coaching staff. Head coach Jeff Miller said it was a frustrating game for the team.

“The frustrating part is having the same conversations over and over again,” said Miller.

Miller added they have to understand what kind of team they are. He said they are a defensively-based team that has to outsmart other teams and play well tactically. The Lady Gens don’t have a strong, offensive team this season so they have to rely on ball control and long rallies in an effort to force other teams to make mistakes.

“We’re not going to overpower other teams at the net,” said Miller.

Bailey Rigney (7) returns a shot over the net during last Thursday's loss to Villanova.

Bailey Rigney (7) returns a shot over the net during last Thursday’s loss to Villanova.

Miller said the team had a rough start to the season but were coming together just before the Christmas break and picked up a couple of victories. He didn’t blame the Christmas break for interrupting any sort of momentum, noting he often finds teams come back stronger after getting some time off.

“I’m definitely not going to make up any excuses,” Miller stated. “After the time off, we should be motivated and ready to compete.”

The Lady Gens (3-3) hosted Tecumseh Vista Academy Tuesday after this issue of the River Town Times went to press. Their only other game this week is on the road at St. Anne Thursday afternoon.