Humber clinched their ninth straight OCAA title in straight sets over the Niagara Knights 25-9, 25-22 and 25-18. The Hawks commanded the match from beginning to end with a complete team effort but had strong performances from Alley Newman's game leading 12 kills and potent blocking, and nine kills each from Thalia Hanniman and Devan O'Connor.
Setter Brittany Vanderlaan brought her A-Game with four aces on a stellar serving rally that positioned the Hawks with a 10-0 lead. The attackers kept up with Vanderlaan's streak with left side Brynne Coleman and right side Devan O'Connor combining for an onslaught of kills. Middle Alley Newman denied the Knights at the net and Niagara was stuck with only four points on the board while the Hawks were up by 17. Niagara grasped at chances to change the outcome but the Hawks were too dominant on the court. They won the first set 25-9.
Niagara woke up from their nightmare and gave the Hawks a better fight the second time around. Newman heated up with six kills but the Knights stayed close with their 15-17 deficit. Niagara forced some errors that stunned the Hawks for a few possessions but Humber snapped out of it after a much needed timeout. The Knights had a chance to take over the set only down 21-20, but the Hawks kicked it into high gear with outside Thalia Hanniman roaring for a series of kills that helped the squad topple the Knights 25-22.
Humber could see the light at the end of the tunnel while the Knights could see that they had to rescue themselves. Niagara gave Humber their best shot and traded points up until the 18-16 mark. But that was the turning point where Humber put their foot down and knew that the game was over for their valiant opponent. Barely containing their smiles, Newman ended the match with a laser shot that dropped in mid court. The Hawks kept their crown with the 25-18 victory.
Newman was named the Player of the Game and joined Hanniman as an OCAA Tournament All-Star, and Vanderlaan was named the Tournament's Most Valuable Player. But the hard work is far from over and the Hawks will begin to prepare for the CCAA National Championships with practice on Monday. "It felt really nice to win with my family and girls that I spend the most time with." Newman said joyfully. "Just to reach our potential and to know that we can still surpass it, I'm hoping that we can still surpass that potential at Nationals."
The National Championships take place from March 11-14 at Holland College in P.E.I.