Men's Volleyball earn ticket to Nationals

February 24th, 2013

 

Read more in the NDN

The 2013 CCAA Men's Volleyball National Championships will be held at Niagra College March 6-9 and all the action will be live via the NATIONALS WEBSITE

Congratulations to PACWEST League All-Stars
Lee Hamilton, Adam Tishenko, Tory Zaytoff

All-Rookie team : Zach Grigg

PACWEST PLAYER OF THE YEAR - Lee Hamilton

PACWEST ROOKIE OF THE YEAR - Zach Grigg

Read more in the NNB

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Mariners end nationals drought

VIU men qualify for CCAA championships with silver medal; Women upset by Bearcats in semifinals
 
Josh Aldrich
Daily News

The monkey has been removed from the Vancouver Island University Mariners men's volleyball team's back.

They are finally heading back to the Canadian Colleges Athletic Association Championships after earning a silver medal and a wild card berth at the Pacific Western Athletic Association finals on the weekend at the College of the Rockies in Cranbrook. To advance, the Mariners needed to just beat rival Camosun Chargers on Friday, and they did so 3-1 (22-25, 29-27, 25-23, 25-18).

The gold medal game, however, did not go as planned, as tournament upstart Capilano University Blues won 3-1 (26-24, 23-25, 12-25, 25-20).

VIU will now prepare to improve on their provincial silver at nationals at Niagra College in Welland, Ont., from March 7-9.

"I would have loved to win the banner, but the biggest match for us was definitely winning that Camosun one," said Mariners head coach Abe Avender. "It's been six years since we've been and I've never gone myself with the program. I'm pumped and proud to go."

Key to the Mariners finally advancing was their preparation and planning. Avender had every detail planned out to the smallest detail in an effort to keep his team focused on the task at hand.

After years of disappointment, he was not going to leave anything to chance this time.

"We prepped as hard as we could prep in every possible way," he said. "I planned pretty much eat, sleep, breathe for the four days we were there."

But VIU had their work cut out for themselves to advance. They ran into a motivated Camosun Chargers team, who they had split with just last week to clinch the No. 2 seed and bye at provincials. The Chargers ended up as the No. 3 seed and beat the University of Fraser Valley 3-1 (21-25, 25-19, 25-20, 25-20) in their opening match.

The Mariners shook off a shaky first set and slowly took over the game.

"We were just feeling it out that first set and after that we were really stable," said Avender.

Throughout the tournament, they were buoyed by a rambunctious crowd and even a few VIU supporters.

Against the Blues in the final, there was just no stopping this year's Cinderella team. Capilano entered as the No. 4 seed and beat host College of the Rockies Avalanche 3-0 in their first match. They then upset the Douglas College Royals - the No. 2 team in the country - 3-2 (23-25, 27-25, 17-25, 28-26, 16-14) in their semifinal.

But Avender is not going to let the loss hold them back as they prepare for the CCAA championships.

He has another week to figure out all of the details.

"In the dressing room afterwards, the guys were sad and disappointed, but I keep reality checking myself with how young our team is," he said, noting there are times when there are four rookies, a second year and a fourth year all out on the court at the same time. "That is so young and to have a chance to go to nationals . . . for those guys, the experience of being in a provincial final in their first year and still have an opportunity to go to nationals and experience that, the program is on such a good high."

VIU entered the provincial tournament as the No. 2 seed and with a bye, but lost to the No. 3 Columbia Bible College Bearcats 3-2 (16-25, 25-23, 19-25, 25-22, 17-15) in the semifinal.

To advance to nationals, the Mariners had to make the gold medal game. Instead they played the Capilano University Blues for third place and won 3-0 (25-15, 25-19, 25-17).

"It wasn't the medal that we wanted, but I still believe that you've got to win your last game, you've got to show class and I think we did that," said head coach Shane Hyde. "It was obvious we should have been the team going, but that's sport. Sometimes no matter how much you prepare . . . fate happens."

This will be just the second time in 14 years the women have failed to advance out of provincials and is a tough pill to swallow this year. However, they played timid and scared against CBC - a team they had beaten three times already this year - and it killed them.

"It surprised us," said Hyde. "At some moments in the match we almost thought we'd find a way to make it get fixed, that it would happen and we'd win and when the fifth set rolled around we were so frazzled. We were embarrassing out there in the fifth set, and we just unraveled.

"I think it's a good lesson for the program and the future."

VIU WOMEN FALL SHORT OF NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS

The VIU Mariners women's volleyball team had their dream of a repeat come crashing down on Friday, but they still ended the weekend with a PacWest bronze medal.