Volleyball playoffs edition
By Davie Wong, Sports Editor
It’s that time of year again. Seasons are wrapping up and the playoffs are around the corner. Well, to be exact, volleyball playoffs are this week. So here’s a look at the Royals’ matchups.
The men’s excellent regular season record has earned then a bye into the semifinals. They will play the winners of the VIU Mariners vs. Capilano Blues matchup. In my opinion, I foresee the Mariners winning their quarterfinals and moving to play the Royals. Should this happen, the Royals are in for a tough challenge. They’ve played the Mariners four times this season, winning three of the four games but never cleanly sweeping them. If anyone is going to upset the Royals, it’ll be the Mariners.
Should the Royals win, they’ll likely be up against the third best team in the country according to the CCAA rankings, the defending champion Camosun Chargers. If it comes to this, it will easily be the match of the year. The two teams have met four times this season as well, with them both taking two games, but the Chargers have the definite edge. No one has pushed the Chargers like the Royals have. Likewise, no one has soundly beat the Royals like the Chargers have this season. The last time these two met up, the games were closer than stitches in volleyball shorts. Look forward to this game should it happen.
The key for the Royals this weekend will be the coaching. Coach Brad Hudson has done an excellent job with shaping his roster this season, and there is no doubt that the Royals easily have the deepest pool of players out of all the teams in PACWEST and arguably the CCAA. That being said, it’s sometimes difficult for coaches to recognize when a player is having an off-night. If the matchups I predicted end up being true, there will be no room for slumping players. Coach Hudson needs to be brutal and decisive about who is on the court, and when to pull someone off. If the right players are on the court at the right times, I have no doubt that the Royals will be able to bring home the title this year.
It has been a year of trials and tribulations for the women’s volleyball team, but they’ve made it. They are in the playoffs, no matter what their seed is. They have had a season that they can be proud of. Now comes the hard part.
Meeting the Royals for their first challenge will the fifth-seeded UFV Cascades. The two teams have played four times this year with the Royals sweeping the series. They have also swept two out of four games against UFV. Nonetheless, it’s best to never underestimate one’s opponent. The Cascades will be coming in hungry, and they’ve shown that they can push the Royals, as the last time these two played, it went to five sets. The Royals need to end them quickly if they hope to move on. They cannot allow UFV to get any momentum. This means cracking down on misplays and not gifting leads to start a set.
Should they make it through UFV, waiting to say hello to them on the other side is none other than the second best team in the country according to the CCAA rankings, the VIU Mariners.
I’m not going to lie, this will be an extremely tough matchup if it comes to pass. The Royals have played the Mariners four times this season and lost every time. However, they’ve only been swept by the Mariners once. It will take some serious planning, a tremendous amount of skill, and more than likely, a few buckets of luck, for the Royals to pull off an upset here, but it is possible. Should they win, they will face off against the Camosun Chargers or the Capilano Blues. But if the Royals can beat the Mariners, then they could likely beat anyone.
The key to this weekend will be mental toughness and diversity. The team needs to be prepared for the situation that they drop two sets, and still try to pull off a win. In the past, this team has had a history of dropping two sets and getting blown out in the third. While they have shown that they can come back, the team will need to be a lot more prepared for this scenario during the playoffs. The Royals will need to be ready for the emotional and physical strain that the playoffs bring as they are a very emotionally driven team.
The team will need to utilize or create a deep bag of tricks and switches to keep other teams on their toes. At the moment, the team strategy is fairly straightforward, and most losses have come when teams find out how to shut that strategy down. For the playoffs to be a successful story for the Royals, they need to add diversity to their play; perhaps shift roles around for a play or two, or even a set. The team has a talented roster with players that can fill multiple roles. It’ll be about whether they can pull it off.