Earl Haig rallies past Vanier in season opener

Earl Haig plots its strategy against Georges Vanier during a timeout.
Earl Haig plots its strategy against Georges Vanier during a timeout. (earl-haig-team-shot2)

Alex Wang was the star of the game for the Earl Haig senior boys volleyball team as they defeated the visiting Georges Vanier Vikings in three sets, 25-7, 18-25, 15-7, on Tuesday afternoon.

The win was a good start for a team that finished second last in the Toronto District Secondary School Athletic Association’s north division last season.

“The boys are a big improvement from last year,” said head coach John Pascua. “We struggled last season and we worked hard to turn things around.”

Both teams split the first two sets, setting the stage for the tiebreaker.

Haig State scored six straight points in the extra set, highlighted by a monster spike from Wang to go up 6-1. Wang and teammate Kyle Docherty also combined for a crucial block in that span.

The Vikings trimmed Earl Haig’s lead to 6-4, but the home squad reeled off six straight points to take a commanding 12-4 lead.

Wang’s serving ace on match point secured the win for Haig State.

“We have a better offence this year,” Pascua said. “Today, the team did really well with the basics – getting our serves in bounds, and making sure our passes get up to the setter.”

Vanier won the second set to force the tiebreaker.

They led 14-6 at one point but Earl Haig scored the next six before the Vikings called a timeout. Coming out of the break, the home squad added three more to take a 15-14 advantage.

At that point, Vanier picked up the intensity, outscoring its opponent 6-1 before Pascua called a timeout.

“We lost our heads a bit and thought we had the game won too early.” said Haig State captain Nikita Ivanchenko. “I was hoping for better passing and setting, but we’ve only had one practice so everybody’s a little nervous.”

Ivanchenko said Earl Haig, which easily took the first set sparked by a 16-0 run, is in a better position to contend this season.

“We didn’t have much coordination last year,” Ivanchenko said. “This year, I think we’re ready to win.”