Young men’s team overcome experienced opponents
By Davie Wong, Sports Editor
It’s been a long wait for the returning members of the men’s volleyball team. For the 4 out of 19 players returning from last year’s squad, the start of the season is something they’ve been awaiting eagerly. But no one was probably more excited than their new head coach, Jay Tremonti. With him comes a new era of men’s volleyball at Douglas College, alongside a team with eight rookies and four veterans who are eager to prove themselves.
They had the chance to do exactly that when the season started on Friday. The team opened their 2016–17 campaign at home, playing against the CBC Bearcats. The team’s opening roster featured the likes of veterans Johnson Yi, Justin Faester, and Jarod Collins, as well as rookies Mike Howeren, Zack Thielmann, and Jackson Goodman.
In their first set of 2016–17 PACWEST volleyball action, the team showed how their youth was one of their best traits. The Royals blasted the Bearcats right out of the games from the first swing. Justin Faester and Mike Howeren put the ball down for the Royals, leading their team to a 25–21 set win.
The second set saw the Royals go down early, but Johnson Yi came up huge for his team. A couple of huge blocks as well as massive kills from Yi gave the Royals the energy they needed to come back and close out the set, taking it 25–21.
Down 2-0, the Bearcats’ situation looked dire. But just because the Bearcats were down, doesn’t mean that they were out. The Royals also flashed their inexperience here, and not in a good way. The men fell behind early in the third set, allowing CBC to get four points from their opening server. The lead continued to grow for the Bearcats, and soon became insurmountable. Johnson Yi had a serving streak going at one point in the set, but that was the closest the Royals got to closing that set, as they gave it up to the Bearcats 25–21.
Knowing the dire situation should the team give up another set, the Royals tried their hardest to close out the game. Hot serving from Justin Faester, as well as Devon Dunn, saw the Royals take the lead and command the scoreboard midway through the set. But the Bearcats are a feisty team, and they clawed their way back into the set, eventually going on a five point run to bring the set close. Try as they might, the Royals just couldn’t close out the set, and the Bearcats had their comeback ready, winning the fourth set 25–23, and forcing a fifth set.
In a fifth set scenario, Jay Tremonti turned to his veterans for the closer. The team responded with a huge effort, that the Bearcats barely matched. The two dragged the set out as long as they could, with both teams climbing to a tie score of 14. Put under pressure, it was Johnson Yi that served the team to their first game win, allowing the Royals to take the set 16–14, and the game 3–2.
A short rest day was all the team needed after that thriller. Their second game against the Bearcats had a much different light. The Royals made a statement in the first set running away with it and taking it 25–15. The second set was much closer, but the Royals continued their early streak and took that set 25–21.
Put against the wall for a second time, the Bearcats needed to fight back again. They did so in the third set, keeping the set as close as they could. In a set that could go either way, it was the Bearcats that kept the game alive with a huge 28–26 set win to make the game 2–1.
With the chance of the giving up their lead again, the Royals made sure to close out the game in the fourth set. They silenced the Bearcats comeback whispers with a dominant 25–18 set win to close out the game 3–1.
After the game, Jay Tremonti took some time to comment on his team’s win. “We did pretty good. We came out in the first two sets, and CBC came out in the third and put us on our heels. It was a battle from there on. Our guys pulled through in the end but it was a gritty performance from CBC. After the first two sets, we started looking at finish line instead of the point in front of us. That kind of shows a little bit of our youth.”