Men’s volleyball stay true to national ranking

Fifth-place finish at CIS Championships in Kamloops gives Ontario champs much-needed experience for hosting in 2012

The men’s volleyball team came in fifth at the CIS Championships in Kamloops. It was their first time at nationals since the 2007 season.
The men’s volleyball team came in fifth at the CIS Championships in Kamloops. It was their first time at nationals since the 2007 season.
Credit: 
Journal File Photo

Last weekend, the men’s volleyball team competed in the CIS Championships in Kamloops B.C., hosted by Thompson Rivers University. After a loss to start the tournament, the fifth-ranked Gaels ended up as the fifth place team in the country.

Head coach Brenda Willis said the Gaels were in over their heads in their straight-set loss to the fourth-ranked Trinity Western Spartans on Friday.

“I thought we went into the first match with a level of confidence,” she said. “We managed ourselves reasonably well in the match. ... Once Trinity Western settled in, they really started running a very fast-paced and sophisticated offence. We were down a set, and we fought really well in the second set, [but] we just made a few untimely errors.”

She said the team needed to straighten out its priorities.

“The hardest thing is when you go there and you lose the first round, and you’re not in the top four, to regroup and set a new goal.”

Already out of the medal contention, the Gaels beat their next opponent, the eighth-ranked Université de Québec à Montréal Carabins, in four sets.

Third-year outside hitter Bryan Fautley delivered 21 kills and five digs against the Carabins. The win set the Gaels up for a five-set victory over the host Thompson Rivers Wolf Pack in the fifth-place game.

“For us to finish fifth ... was a good result for us,” Willis said. “Our absolute goal next year ... is to finish in the top four and vie for a medal. Our long-term vision of this program all along has been to put ourselves in the position to challenge for the national title, when we host in 2012.” She said the team works as an effective unit. Over the course of the season, the Gaels lost setter Dan Rosenbaum to an ankle and hip injury and were also hit by the flu bug.

“We were fortunate to bring virtually an entire lineup in together at the same time. And they’ve really grown and gelled together. I think that has been a key to our success throughout the year, is our depth.”

She added that the experience has helped them to prepare for next season.

“Next year, we go there with this experience under our belt,” she said. “We should go into next season with a national ranking, I think when you finish fifth you tend to come out with some respect the next time around.”

Fautley said the team is satisfied with its results.

“Our goal this year was to get to CIS, and we got there this year and I think we did a really good job of meeting our goals.,” he said. “To go in ranked fifth and to come out ranked fifth is a great feat for our team.” The end of the season isn’t all confetti and champagne, though. The Gaels will be saying goodbye to their captain, fifth-year middle hitter Sam Pedlow.

Fautley said it’ll be hard to fill his shoes next season.

“He’s an unbelievable player and a great leader on the court,” he said. “It’s hard not to respect him as a volleyball player and as a leader of our team. It’ll be interesting to see who steps up next year as the leader of our team.” Fautley said he and his third-year teammates are effective leaders for the team.

“This year ... we had a couple new faces to the starting line up,” he said. “This is my first year starting, but it was great to have Joren [Zeeman], Amo [Michael Amoroso], Niko [Rukavina] and [Dan] Rosenbaum to bring a bit of a veteran attitude to the team. I think it was a really nice mix of fresh faces and veterans to the starting line up, and that really worked to our benefit.”

The performance was an improvement on their last showing at the 2007 CIS Championships, when they lost both their opening game and the consolation semi-final to be booted early from the tournament.

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