Jeremy Yudin, Sports Reporter
The men’s volleyball team finished second in last month’s OCAA tournament and will be playing at the nationals starting this week. The women’s team, however, will not have that same opportunity.
The women’s team broke an unprecedented record of 17 straight years of finishing top three in the OCAA tournament after the bronze game loss to Durham
Despite the achievement, it was the first time since taking over the team in the 2001-02 season that coach Chris Wilkins was unable to bring his team to a spot on the podium.
There were several factors that resulted in an uncharacteristic season, including playing in a tough division with the likes of Sheridan and Mohawk and the
But assistant coach Dean Wylie is dwelling on the undefeated Fanshawe Falcons.
“Nobody was going to beat Fanshawe this year anyway,” he said.
Fanshawe won every set they played in their four OCAA tournament games, including a three set sweep of the Hawks.
Coach Wylie said his team needed to stop the Falcons’ momentum and go on a run of their own.
“We’d go on runs and points to create some separation, and then we wouldn’t be able to stop them when they started their rolls,” he said.
“Our defence was great, probably one of the best defensive teams we’ve had, but our offensive prowess wasn’t where it needed to be to compete at the high provincial level. We needed to be gunners,” he said.
Coach Wylie is giving Fanshawe the respect it deserves, after finally taking down a Humber team that won 34 straight playoff games dating back to the 2007-08 season.
“We’ve been on the other side of that for 11 years. We’ve been the champs,” he said. “So losing to Fanshawe in the semis? Hey man, I’ve gotta go have a beer with that coach.
“And what, over the last 11 years we’ve been fortunate enough to not have to buy the beer,” the coach said.
While the women’s season is over, the men’s team is in Alberta to begin the CCAA tournament. Their opener was last Thursday against the Vancouver Island University Mariners. Humber dropped the match 3-0 and now has its sights on a bronze.
But before leaving for Red Deer, Alta., Humber hoped to upset an undefeated Fanshawe team in the gold medal game in the provincials, but came up short in a five-set thriller.
“We already knew we made nationals, but we wanted to beat Fanshawe obviously,” said outside hitter Rrezart Sadiku.
“We lost to them twice in the regular season and we had them on the ropes that game and guys were sad obviously and mad but we know we’ll get em again,” he said.
“We saw them earlier in the year when they were coming to our school and we knew it was going to be a good battle,” said head coach Wayne Wilkins.
After Humber lost in three straight sets in the first meeting of the season, the Hawks flew into Fanshawe and put up a better fight.
“We lost in four but we got the monkey off our back by taking a set from them,” Wayne said.
The final meeting, which happened to be the gold medal game, was even closer. Humber was four points away from handing the Falcons their first loss of the season.
“I just knew how far we had come. They just played their hearts out. To lose to that team in five by four points, that’s a huge accomplishment and it bodes well for the future,” Wayne said.
He said he believes the CCAA tournament will be putting more pressure on other teams rather than Humber.
“I’ve had groups in the past where they do feel the pressure, the pressure of every point. That’s not this group,” he said.
Pressure or not, the team acknowledges where they are in the standings and the mindset they will take into the tournament with.
“Yeah, we’re the underdog for sure,” Sadiku said. “Usually Humber’s the top team but we’re up there. It’s just I don’t think teams know what’s coming for them so we kind of like that.”