Newtonbrook volleys into semis with win

The Newtonbrook North Stars advanced to Toronto’s North Region semi-finals in senior boys volleyball on Thursday with a 2-0 victory over the William Lyon Mackenzie Lyons.

After falling behind in the second set, Newtonbrook came from behind to pull out the two game victory, 25-20, 25-22.

“It felt pretty good,” Newtonbrook captain Jamie Galka said. “Whenever you come [from behind] it feels good, especially when you’re down in such a big game.”

Galka, along with teammate Farbod Taliayan, outdid Mackenzie in their net play, not allowing the Lyons many kills and forcing them more often than not to bump the ball into the North Stars half.

Following a scrambled start that saw the North Stars fall behind 7-2 in the second set, coach Mia Kim called a key time-out.

“I think when they get behind, they get a little frantic and so they’re not passing the ball as well,” Kim said. “So I just told them to calm down and re-focus.”

Taliayan said he wasn’t really worried because the team had been in that situation before.

“We knew what we had to do. We had to pick it up, get low, start moving around, calling for the ball, and making sure our setter gets a good pass so he can set the ball.”

Taliayan has taken over more of a leadership role since the club’s best player, Levi Warrack, went down with injury a few weeks ago, Kim said.

After the time out, Newtonbrook began to move the ball around in a more succinct fashion as it began to cut into the Mackenzie lead.

“[They have to] make sure the pass goes up first and remember one step at a time,” Kim said. “First thing is the pass, then you can hit.

“And after they started to pass it a little bit better, then we were able to pass more and then that put the other team on the defence. So I think that worked out for us.”

A big part of their plan was to try and take the Lyons’ top player, Cressan Genus, out of the game.

“I just told them that when he gets set in the backcourt they have to peel off the net and only put up one block,” Kim said.

“His ball was hard hit, but it was a roll shot, so it dropped back and [my team wasn’t] getting back off the net fast enough and weren’t digging it.

“So I told them not to block his shot so much, only one blocker, and the rest of guys peeled off to dig.”

In the end, Newtonbrook made less errors, especially on its serves.

Mackenzie made eight unforced errors on serves, mistakes that allowed the North Stars to stay in the game even when the Lyons were controlling other aspects of the match.

The victory is Newtonbrook’s 10th in a row. After losing the season opener to Victoria Park on Sept. 29, the club hasn’t  lost, winning the East Division with a 9-1 record.

Semi-final action runs Nov. 9 against A.Y. Jackson in their home gym.