Black Knights picked as volleyball favourites

ON THE RETURN: Malvern’s Abi Moody bumps a serve back into Northern territory during senior girls volleyball action Jan. 5.

The chatter among teams in Tier 1 girls volleyball is Malvern Black Knights could be the ones to unseat last year’s South Region champs Lawrence Park.

If a 3-0 start for coach Britni Blackmore is any indication, this season looks promising for the Black Knights, even if there are tough games.

“We actually had a tough game against Jarvis. They were digging all our balls,” she said.

Malvern’s first game of 2011 was not so much a challenge in gameplay, but more in preventing over-confidence heading into their next match against Riverdale Jan. 17.

Northern Red Knights fell victim to an organized Malvern squad, losing 2-0 (25-6, 25-5).

Leading the way for the Black Knights were captain Beth Safarian and Abi Moody.

A core of setters enabled Safarian and Moody to score points, as was the result in the lop-sided win over the Red Knights.

Northern coach Wendy Luck acknowledged her opponents’ performance but attributed it to her charges’ failing the basics.

“We just can’t pass the ball well,” she said. “The girls, after seeing the toughness of the serve and the hits, it kind of put them in a position. They were very nervous.

“They felt that it was out of reach.”

Right from the beginning, Malvern’s Maddy Peters and Abi Moody established strong serving runs that caught Red Knights middles off guard. Additional service from Malvern’s Sasha Hartmann proved too much to handle. The inability to return such hotshots hushed Northern, much to the chagrin of Luck.

“They got very quiet, very quickly,” she said. “When you’re quiet you can’t win.”

With league players in Malvern’s barracks, and knowledge of threats on their fellow South Region rivals, there is no doubt the road to the South Region title will be a rough one.

“We are going to face some tough competition,” Blackmore said. “Some (Black Knights) play club volleyball and they know girls on other teams they know we will be facing.”

As for a Lawrence Park Panthers takedown by Malvern, Blackmore is confident her team’s flexibility will do the job.

“We’ve got many versatile players so we play them at many different positions, trying out different things,” she said.  “They all adapt.”

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