Men’s volleyball season-in-review
By Eric Wilkins, Sports Editor
On March 8, the men’s volleyball team wrapped up their season at Nationals in Saskatchewan. Though the squad had title aspirations going into the tournament, their final position—a tie for fifth—is nothing to shake a fist at. With a PACWEST Championship in hand and a season full of memories, these Royals can head into their offseason with their heads held high.
The opening game for Douglas at nationals saw the Royals take on the tournament hosts, Briercrest College. Although the Royals battled hard, even leading 2-1 heading into the fourth set, they ultimately lost the match 3-2 (25-20, 24-26, 22-25, 25-20, 15-10). If the squad was feeling demoralized after their gold medal chances faded, they didn’t show it in their next matchup. To have any hope of medalling, the squad had to make sure they pulled out a win against the St. Thomas University Tommies—and they did. After allowing the Tommies a first set win, the Royals stormed back with three straight, including a dominating third set win (20-25, 25-21, 25-10, 25-20).
With St. Thomas University out of the way, Douglas had a familiar foe to face in order to reach the bronze medal game: the Columbia Bible College Bearcats. The rematch of the PACWEST final wasn’t to go the Royals’ way this time around though, losing 3-1. The Royals pushed in the fourth, but it just wasn’t enough (21-25, 25-20, 25-15, 29-27).
Coach Brad Hudson commented that, “It’s obviously a challenge to refocus after losing the first match, but for the most part, I thought we did. We just never really found our groove and had to rely more on intangibles and less on executing good skills and tactics. To finish in the top six in the country can’t be undervalued but the reality is we believe we were/are better than our finish.”
Nationals may not have gone their way, but there’s a veritable laundry list of accomplishments for the team and its members this season. For starters, after a season with its share of struggles, the squad finished first in PACWEST. Along with this is a bevy of individual awards: Brad Hudson took home PACWEST Coach of the Year; Caleb Konrad snagged PACWEST Rookie of the Year; Drew Ruby was a PACWEST Second Team All-Star; and Andrew McWilliam was both an All-Canadian and a PACWEST First Team All-Star.
The team undoubtedly made strides this year—something that both fifth-year Andrew Robson and Hudson acknowledge.
“[We] definitely came a long way. The team now is incredibly different from the team we had in September. We have all grown so much, both individually and collectively,” said Robson.
Hudson noted that, “They’ve learned a lot about themselves and each other through this process. Their honesty and integrity as young men, athletes, and as Royals on and off the court is something the coaches are truly proud of.”
Robson’s athletic eligibility is now over, but he’s happy with how his college career went: “Ending with a provincial championship was pretty awesome. I know a lot of guys who have played their five years and never even had the opportunity to win one; I was lucky enough to get two in my time at Douglas. Going out on top—in BC at least—is definitely something I’ll never forget.”
He also has high hopes for the Royals next season, “It’ll be fun watching that team next year. It’s clear the group has a ton of talent; they just need to keep pushing themselves to get better. If they can do that there’s no doubt they’ll be a contender.”