The undefeated Acton Bearcats claimed their first-ever Halton Secondary School Athletic Association senior girls' AAA volleyball title by knocking off Loyola of Oakville on Monday in two straight sets at Sheridan College. By far the smallest school by population in the Halton AAA playdowns, the Bearcats were victorious in all eight regular-season matches and both playoff encounters. They're used to being considered giant-killers, however, having won four of the five tournaments they've entered in 2005-06. "One thing this team has done really well all year is that when they get down in a match, they're able to keep their composure and make their way back into the lead," said Acton coach Joyce Finley. Not that Monday's match victory was a cakewalk for Acton as Loyola threatened to tie both games with late rallies. In the final set, Ashley Nixon served up the
clinching point despite sporting a gooseegg-sized bruise on her left elbow, earned by diving for a ball. Utilizing an aggressive offence headed up by captain Melissa Bigg and a stingy defence in which Jen Wieck and Kirsten Lowe shut down their opponents at the net, the Bearcats didn't allow Loyola to string many points together. "It was a little nerve-wracking at the end, but we pulled through," said Nixon before heading to the hospital to have the fluid drained from her elbow. The senior Bearcats are just one win away from another trip to the provincial finals and they'll host Hamilton's Bishop Ryan tomorrow in the Golden Horseshoe title match starting at 2 p.m. Finley was confident her girls could compete at the AAA level, but there were also some travel and financial considerations that came into play when the classifications were made at the start of the season. The OFSAA championships for
the AA level are in Dryden, while the AAA championship tournament is just an hour away in Stratford March 7-8. Meanwhile, the Georgetown junior girls went unbeaten (10-0) during the regular season as well, and brought home another Halton title after beating Assumption of Burlington in three close games at Sheridan on Monday, prevailing 15-13 in the deciding set. It's the seventh Halton championship for Georgetown's juniors in the past nine seasons and maintains an incredible run of 11 years for the school's volleyball program in which at least one of the teams has captured a regional crown. The Rebels beat Nelson 2-1 in the semi-final, after having posted 2-0 sweeps of St. Thomas Aquinas and Iroquois Ridge in the preliminaries. The senior Rebels, winners of nine of the last 10 Halton finals, lost in the semifinals Friday to Oakville-Trafalgar 2-0.