Mary Ewer

Lady Gens advance to OFSAA quarterfinals before bowing out



By Ron Giofu


A team from Fonthill captured the OFSAA “AA” senior girls volleyball championship but the home team still had a respectable showing at the tournament.

E.L. Crossley defeated Widdifield, the latter school being from North Bay, in the OFSAA gold medal game last Wednesday evening in a five-set match, winning the fifth and final set 16-14. E.L. Crossley entered the tournament as the fifth seed while Widdifield was the second seed. The match concluded the provincial tournament, hosted by General Amherst High School, with the home team putting in a solid effort.

The Lady Gens, who were seeded sixth, were defeated by Franco Cité, an Ottawa-based school last Tuesday night in the championship quarterfinals. Third seeded Franco Cité won the first set 25-23 before General Amherst rallied to win the second set 25-20. Franco-Cité would advance to the semi-finals with 25-17 and 25-22 in the third and fourth sets respectively.

General Amherst’s Abby Orchard (black jersey) plays the ball during the OFSAA quarterfinal match with Franco Cité March 5.

General Amherst head coach Jeff Miller said he was looking forward to the match with Franco Cité as they are similarly sized teams that played similar styles.

“I knew it would be a hard fought match,” said Miller. “We just made a couple of more errors.”

Miller believed the Lady Gens “shot ourselves in the foot” in the first set a couple of times and missed some timely serves. Had the Lady Gens won that set, “it could have been completely different,” he added.

“Overall, I thought we played pretty well,” he stated. “I thought we played better in OFSAA than we did at WECSSAA and SWOSSAA. I’m happy. I think it’s fantastic to get to the OFSAA quarterfinals and be one of eight teams that had a chance.”

Miller said it was a good achievement for the Lady Gens to advance to the OFSAA quarterfinals, particularly since they only won one match during the 2017-18 season.

“It’s tough to lose in the quarterfinals but they are a great team,” said assistant coach Mary Ewer. “We didn’t give up.”

The General Amherst Lady Gens celebrate after getting a point versus Franco Cité.

The Lady Gens gelled together this year and Ewer noted they were a young team this season.

“We’re proud of them,” said Ewer.

Eight of the 11 players are eligible to return next season with graduating seniors including captain Vanessa Pidutti, Ramie Tytgat and Lizzy Homeniuk-Smith. With so many players returning, Miller believes that it could lead to bigger and better things for the Lady Gens next season. He said they are hoping to earn a medal at next year’s OFSAA.

Ewer pointed out that none of the players on this year’s team had played at the provincial level in high school.

“None of them had experience at OFSAA,” she said.

General Amherst’s Elyssa Grondin (10) sets the ball in the air as Dani Brindley (right) looks on.

Ewer emphasized the Lady Gens made great strides and had a very good season.

“It was pretty awesome,” she said.

The bronze medal match was won by Corpus Christi, as they defeated Franco Cité. Corpus Christi was the top seed entering the tournament. Thornlea won the consolation championship as they defeated the Essex Red Raiders in the consolation championship match.

For more photos on the Lady Gens’ OFSAA quarterfinal match, visit our Facebook photo album.

OFSAA volleyball action starts today, banquet held Sunday night


By Ron Giofu

The OFSAA “AA” senior girls volleyball tournament is getting started between Amherstburg and Windsor but one member of the host General Amherst team has already won an award.

Assistant coach Mary Ewer was honoured at Sunday night’s OFSAA banquet at the St. Clair Centre for the Arts in Windsor with the OFSAA Leadership and School Sport Award. Presented by tournament co-convener and Lady Gens head coach Jeff Miller, the award recognized Ewer’s years of work in both elementary and high school sports.

Mary Ewer won the OFSAA Leadership and School Sport award during the banquet for the OFSAA “AA” volleyball tournament March 3. Making the presentation is General Amherst head coach Jeff Miller. Tournament action runs March 4-6 between General Amherst High School and the St. Clair College Sportsplex.

Miller noted that Ewer “dedicated her whole life and career to sports” and that she has spent 20-plus years at the high school level coaching, including six OFSAA medals in the past. About 17 of those years have seen the two coach the Lady Gens together.

Ewer said she was “shocked and honoured” to receive the award.

“I was totally shocked,” she said. “I had no idea. It’s an honour, especially that Jeff gave it to me. It’s very wonderful.”

Miller thanked the volunteers, fellow co-convener Greg Scott and the sponsors for helping plan the provincial volleyball tournament, which has seen 20 teams from around Ontario come to the area. He gave special thanks to his wife Nicole for her support as well.

General Amherst head coach Jeff Miller (right) receives an award from OFSAA representative Tom Couvillion for his efforts in organizing the OFSAA “AA” senior girls volleyball tournament. The OFSAA banquet was Sunday night at the St. Clair Centre for the Arts.

Cathy George, head volleyball coach at Michigan State University, was guest speaker and encouraged the roughly 250 players in attendance to use the gifts they have.

“I believe everyone has gifts,” she said. “Everyone makes your team stronger.”

George encouraged the teams to have fun and enjoy the experience but “go out there and run through a wall.” She also stated that the girls can use the tournament to become better as people and wanted them to give back to others.

“You have to be a giver. You have to make a difference in the world,” she said.

Lucas Hodgson, head coach of the women’s team at the University of Windsor, also encouraged the students to “take it all in” and enjoy the experience while OFSAA representative Tom Couvillion said the same thing.

“Make sure you enjoy it,” said Couvillion.

General Amherst vice principal Bonnie DesJardins brought greetings from both the school and the Greater Essex County District School Board.

Action runs Monday-Wednesday at the St. Clair College Sportsplex and General Amherst High School. Championship matches will be at General Amherst. Tickets are $20 for an adult tournament pass, $10 for a student tournament pass, $10 for an adult day pass and $5 for a student day pass. Children under 13 are free.

Lady Gens capture SWOSSAA “AA” volleyball championship



By Ron Giofu


The General Amherst Lady Gens were already going to the OFSAA “AA” championships as the host team, but have now earned the right to be there based on their play.

The Lady Gens won the SWOSSAA “AA” title last Friday night on their home court, thus solidifying their position as a provincial-calibre senior girls volleyball team. However, they made things dramatic for themselves and their fans as they needed five sets to defeat the visiting Chatham John McGregor Panthers. The match was almost a reversal of the previous week’s WECSSAA title win over Essex, as it was the Lady Gens who won the first two sets before losing the next two. General Amherst was able to rally and win the decisive fifth set to claim the title.

The scores were 25-12, 25-20, 18-25, 22-25 and 15-5.

“It’s awesome. We’re really excited,” said Emma MacVoy.

The General Amherst Lady Gens captured the SWOSSAA “AA” title with a five-set win over Chatham John McGregor last Friday night. Bottom row, from left: Lexi Dodds, Elyssa Grondin, Abby Orchard, Lizzy Homeniuk-Smith, Emma MacVoy. Top row, from left: coach Jeff Miller, Danielle Brindley, Allison Dufour, Brynlee Ammonite, Emery Lucier, Ramie Tytgat, Vanessa Pidutti and coach Mary Ewer.

MacVoy said they thought they would win and thought they had a chance to win in three straight games. They were a bit caught off-guard but John McGregor’s comeback in the third and fourth games but rebounded in the fifth and final set.

“We shook up the lineup a bit,” said MacVoy. “It was definitely fun.”

The Lady Gens got down on themselves in the third and fourth sets, she added, but were able to rebound.

“We were just thinking ‘why do we do this to ourselves?’” she said. “Why not pound the ball and get it in there?”

MacVoy added that “it was awesome to prove we deserve to be at OFSAA. We earned our spot. We worked our butts off, practicing every day even on snow days.”

Assistant coach Mary Ewer said they played well in the first set and were fine in the second but the “blocks were non-existent” in the third and fourth sets.

“Everything was the opposite of the first two games,” said Ewer.

The Lady Gens played hard in the fifth game and were able to win it.

Emma MacVoy (2) spikes the ball over the net during the SWOSSAA “AA” final at General Amherst Feb. 22.

“Near the end, we served tough,” said Ewer.

Head coach Jeff Miller said they played great in the first set but “struggled in the second set and got through it.”

“Realistically, I thought John McGregor outplayed us most of the second, third and fourth sets. We were fortunate to come out on top in the second set,” he said.

The serving was going well early, he added, but that was problematic in the middle of the match.

“We could never sustain momentum because we were making service errors,” he said. “In the fifth game, the kids did a good job resetting and going back to basics. We made good plays and forced (John McGregor) into errors.”

The field is not quite set for OFSAA but 20 teams from around Ontario will be playing matches at both General Amherst High School and the St. Clair College Sportsplex. Miller said there are about 50-60 kids from General Amherst volunteering and sponsorships are going OK. Individuals and businesses looking to sponsor the tournament or be part of the tournament brochure can contact Miller at 519-736-2149 or People can also send inquiries to or call 226-350-5900. Cheques are payable to General Amherst High School.

Allison Dufour (12) and Brynlee Ammonite (1) go up for a block at the net.

OFSAA starts March 3 with the banquet with matches running March 4-6. The final matches will be in Amherstburg.

Tickets are $20 for an adult tournament pass, $10 for a student tournament pass, $10 for an adult day pass and $5 for a student day pass. Children under 13 are free.

Matches will also be streamed on YouTube by following 2019 OFSAAVB GAHS Court or 2019 OFSAAVB St. Clair Court.

To see more photos from the SWOSSAA “AA” title game, visit our Facebook photo album.

Lady Gens capture WECSSAA “AA” volleyball championship


By Ron Giofu


Even though the General Amherst Lady Gens are guaranteed a spot in the OFSAA “AA” provincial senior girls volleyball tournament as the host team, they want to earn their spot there.

They took a step towards that goal by winning the WECSSAA “AA” senior girls volleyball title last Thursday night in a thrilling, back-and-forth match.

The General Amherst Lady Gens won the WECSSAA “AA” title by beating Essex Feb. 14 at the St. Clair College Sportsplex. Top row (from left): head coach Jeff Miller, Danielle Brindley, Allison Dufour, Ramie Tytgat, Brynlee Ammonite, Emma MacVoy, Vanessa Pidutti, assistant coach Mary Ewer. Front row (from left): Lexi Dodds, Emery Lucier, Abby Orchard, Elyssa Grondin, Lizzy Homeniuk-Smith.

The Lady Gens faced off against the Essex Red Raiders at the St. Clair College Sportsplex and, through the first two sets, it appeared as if the championship would be going to Essex. The Red Raiders controlled the first two sets, winning 25-17 and 25-18, but lineup shuffling from head coach Jeff Miller helped the Lady Gens turn the momentum. General Amherst took control in the third set 25-9 and maintained it in the fourth set and won that 25-15.

That set up a decisive fifth and final game to decide the championship. It would be the Lady Gens that surged ahead and captured the championship as they won the fifth set 15-12.

“We changed the lineup following the first two games,” said team captain Vanessa Pidutti. “It just changed the energy and obviously we had the energy the last three games.”

Pidutti said they made a lot of errors early on and got down on themselves but the lineup changes energized the Lady Gens from that point on. They were able to pick themselves up and gather the momentum to take them to the championship.

“It feels really good,” Pidutti said, of winning the Windsor-Essex County “AA” title. “We’ve come a long way as a team. We’ve improved both individually and as a team. We want to earn our way to OFSAA even though we’re hosting it.”

Team captain Vanessa Pidutti accepts the plaque from Greg Scott after General Amherst won the WECSSAA “AA” senior girls volleyball title Feb. 14.

Assistant coach Mary Ewer said they had a better warmup 24 hours earlier before they defeated Tecumseh Vista Academy 25-13, 25-13 and 25-12. She said they seemed nervous prior to the Essex match as opposed to the night before when they played likely their best match of the season. Ewer also credited Miller for making the necessary lineup changes that helped get the Lady Gens over the top against the Red Raiders.

“We flipped it around a bit,” said Miller. “We just needed a different energy. We can’t do the same things and expect a different result. We needed a different look to change the energy.”

For additional photos from the Feb. 14 match, visit our Facebook album.

The Lady Gens now host SWOSSAA this Friday evening and Miller says he feels good about the team heading into that match. OFSAA will be March 3-6 with matches to be held at General Amherst High School and St. Clair College.

Lady Gens advance in WECSSAA “AA” volleyball playoffs



By Ron Giofu


The General Amherst Lady Gens advanced in the WECSSAA “AA” senior girls volleyball playoffs last week with a quarterfinal win over Kingsville.

The Lady Gens, who finished the regular season 8-2, swept the Cavaliers 25-19, 25-12 and 25-9 last Thursday night at General Amherst. The match didn’t start as well as the Lady Gens would have hoped, with assistant coach Mary Ewer pointing out that Kingsville went hard after every ball in the first set while the Lady Gens didn’t come out as strong as they could have.

General Amherst’s Vanessa Pidutti (9) leaps in order to hit the ball over the net during her team’s sweep of the Kingsville Cavaliers in WECSSAA “AA” girls volleyball playoffs Feb. 7.

The two teams were tied at ten in the second set, but Ewer pointed out that Dani Brindley got on a roll with her serving and that led to 14 points for General Amherst.

“In the third set, we took it to them,” said Ewer.

Head coach Jeff Miller agreed that “we did not play well in the fist game. We were pretty sloppy.” He added that in the second half of the second set is when they pulled it together.

Miller noted they didn’t warm up well and that carried over into the match.

“You can pretty much tell where their mind is,” he said.

Miller added that Brindley’s serving helped turn the game into the Lady Gens’ favour.

“She served some bullets to the right areas and we got some confidence from Dani’s good serving,” said Miller.

The Lady Gens hosted the semi-finals Tuesday night after this issue of the RTT went to press. If they advanced, the finals will be Thursday night at St. Clair College at 7:30 p.m.

“It would be nice to have a good week and bring the trophy back,” said Miller.

General Amherst also played in a Chatham-Kent tournament the weekend before and finished third out of 15 teams. Miller said the field was made up of “AAA” level talent and that the Lady Gens fared well.