Jeff Miller

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.

Jr. Lady Gens advance in WECSSAA “AA” volleyball playoffs

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The General Amherst senior girls volleyball season may be finished, but the junior girls are still going.

The Jr. Lady Gens advanced in the WECSSAA “AA” volleyball playoffs last Thursday evening with a three-set sweep of the Essex Red Raiders in a match played at General Amherst High School. The Lady Gens, who were 8-2 in the regular season, defeated Essex 25-17, 25-20 and 25-15 to advance to the semifinals.

“The juniors have had a fantastic year,” said Jeff Miller, who coaches both the juniors and seniors at General Amherst. “Essex is way better than the ten-seed.”

The match versus the Red Raiders was good for the Lady Gens as they had to work for the victory.

“We played a really good, solid match to beat them,” Miller stated. “If we were sloppy, they could have knocked us off.”

Lexi Dodds hits the ball back over the net during General Amherst’s junior girls volleyball match with Essex Feb. 8.

General Amherst is the second seed in the WECSSAA “AA” playoffs and hope to eventually meet the top seed.

“The expectation is we want to be in the WECSSAA final and get another chance at Sandwich and put a scare into them,” said Miller.

This year’s junior Lady Gens team has been a pleasant surprise for coaches Miller and Christine Belcher.

“I thought we’d be a pretty solid group but I didn’t think we’d be second out of everybody,” said Miller.

The senior Lady Gens host the OFSAA “AA” championships next year and Miller believes that team will be “marketedly improved” as they will enter the provincial tournament as the host team.

The senior team will lose about five players to graduation but will have five returning players plus an influx of talent from this year’s junior team. The senior Lady Gens were eliminated from the WECSSAA playoffs in three sets last Tuesday, losing 25-18, 25-23 and 25-19 at Tecumseh Vista Academy. Miller said the seniors started playing better after the Christmas break but illness and injury didn’t help either.

“Unfortunately it was a little bit too late,” he said.

Lady Gens conclude WECSSAA Tier 1 regular season

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The General Amherst Lady Gens regular season is over in WECSSAA Tier 1 volleyball action.

The Lady Gens had a busy week in league action, but lost all of their matches. They lost two sets to one to visiting Essex last Thursday 17-25, 14-25 and 25-19 before dropping three straight to Tecumseh Vista Academy Wednesday. The latter was a make-up game from one that had been postponed due to a snowstorm in December.

evening. Emma MacVoy (left) goes up for the spike while Vanessa Pidutti hits the ball back over the net during a Jan. 16 match against Essex.

The Lady Gens travelled to LaSalle to play Sandwich last Thursday and the Sabres won 25-22, 25-9 and 25-23. First place Riverside came to Amherstburg Monday and won 25-17, 25-22 and 25-19.

“We’re just not playing well enough to beat anyone,” said General Amherst head coach Jeff Miller after the Essex game.

Assistant coach Mary Ewer added the Lady Gens have been battling a lot of illnesses lately and that while “it’s not an excuse,” they’ve had a limited number of players at recent practices.

The General Amherst Lady Gens hosted the Essex Red Raiders last Jan. 16. Emma MacVoy (6) goes up for the spike.

The game against Essex saw some players from the junior team get called up in order to have a full team of Lady Gens take the court.

“We had to shuffle things around just to play tonight,” Miller said last Tuesday.

With the busy week, the coaches agreed it wasn’t a good time to have to battle illnesses but said they have to work through it.

WECSSAA playoffs are scheduled to begin after the exam break.

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.