For Humber’s men’s volleyball coach Wayne Wilkins, it’s the tournament at the end that matters most.
Despite finishing second in the OCAA championships after a heartbreaking five set loss to the Mohawk Mountaineers on Feb. 22, the Hawks still qualified for the CCAA national championships in Moose Jaw, Sask. The championship will run from March 5-8.
“Our goal has been the same right from day one: get to nationals and win a national medal,” said Wilkins. “The guys are going to be prepared to work for a gold medal from nationals.”
Mohawk took the first set of the provincial championship 25-22 but failed to maintain their drive, as Humber won the next two sets 25-16 and 25-22.
The Hawks looked like they were on their way to a four set win, until a game changing play from the Mountaineers stole the momentum back. Mohawk held off multiple match points to win the fourth set 30-28, forcing a tie breaking fifth.
Mohawk seized an early lead in the final set, eventually winning it 15-8 and the championship. It was their first OCAA gold medal since 2007-08.
Fourth year Humber left side Terrel Bramwell, who Mountaineers head coach Matthew Schnar said is arguably the best player in the nation, gave an outstanding performance throughout the tournament. Bramwell racked up 27 kills in the finals and was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player.
The award was little consolation for Bramwell who said the loss was a hard pill to swallow.
“I haven’t stopped thinking about it since we left the gym,” Bramwell said. “We had the game in our hands late, being up 19-14 in the fourth, and let it slip. It hurts.”
“I thought we had time where we played at the level we know we’re at, and it showed in some of our scores, but at others we struggled,” said Bramwell. “We couldn’t push hard enough to close out games when we needed to.”
Andre Brown, a fifth year middle for Humber, said momentum was the difference maker against Mohawk.
“In the fourth set, we had a solid lead, and instead of running with it and getting the win, we let them back into the game, “ Brown said. “We gave them all the momentum.”
Wilkins said that volleyball is often dictated by energy created from play to play.
“Swings are enormous, and we allowed a team that we were beating pretty handily change the momentum on us,” Wilkins said.
That, in addition to attitude, is what Schnar said made the difference in propelling the Mountaineers to victory over the Hawks.
“Just pure will to win,” said Schnar. “We got some key defensive plays on Terrel, and from there we found a way to score points off those defensive plays which gave us momentum.”
“Humber played very, very well, but we just wanted it more.”