Mariners down a setter

November 17th, 2013

Mariners look to continue without setter
by Josh Aldrich, Nanaimo Daily News

Things were finally looking up for the Vancouver Island University Mariners men's volleyball team - that is until the final 15 minutes of their practice on Wednesday.

The last time they were in action, they completed their first weekend sweep of the Pacific Western Athletic Associations season, taking down the University of Fraser Valley Cascades (4-6; 16:23). VIU (4-6; 19:21) was off this past weekend with a bye and were looking good through practice heading into their two game set at Douglas College (5-5; 21:21) on Friday and Saturday.

Then late on Wednesday, starting setter and team captain Adam Tishenko went down in a lot of pain.

He had landed awkwardly on his foot, spraining his ankle, likely landing him on the injured reserve for the final two weeks of the semester.

It is a major blow for the Mariners and leaves them with a gaping hole in the middle of the floor.

"If Adam was healthy, I would have said I'm very excited about the weekend and just seeing where the guys would come from, but sometimes adversity though can turn into a good thing," said VIU head coach Abe Avender.

Tishenko, in his third year out of Vernon, has run the M's offence well all year. Now they are faced with the quandary of who replaces him.

They have two real options. The first is to rush freshman Bennett King Nyberg from Duncan Christian School - a guy they were hoping to bring a long slowly. The second option is to take right-side power Dillon Collett, who was just named PacWest male athlete of the month for October, and move him to the setter position.

Collett has been their biggest and most consistent weapon all season. He is third in the Pacwest in total offence, fifth in kills, fifth in aces, sixth in blocks and eighth in digs.

But he also played the position for his first two seasons at VIU.

"All of the best teams in the country have a really good setter," said Avender. "There's no team of five bangers that can beat a team with two bangers and a really good setter, because they can run that offence so well."

The position was going to be a strength for the Mariners against the Douglas Royals, who feature two first year setters at the position, now it is looking like a bit of wash.

The Royals have two-top end powers in Andrew McWilliam and George Thompson, are strong defensively and will provide a lot of challenges for the Mariners this weekend.

"They're a team that if they don't make a good serve receive, they still find a way to put it in play, they make you beat them, they don't beat themselves," said Avender. "They're well coached, they're a clean team, they don't make a lot of dumb mistakes."

However, it is imperative that VIU finds a way to continue to build off of their success two weeks ago, as they work to climb back into contention in the PacWest, currently sitting in fifth place.

The biggest key to their success is they managed to cut their errors way down, and they need to find a way to continue to do so against Douglas.

"Confidence for each guy, they take it differently. Some of the guys who have had tough starts really grew a lot over those few days," said Avender.