Royals men’s volleyball outperform expectations
By Davie Wong, Sports Editor
I’ll be honest. Had you asked me if a team that had lost its winningest head coach and more than three quarters of its National contending squad during the offseason was going to be a competitor in the PACWEST this season, I would have told you they were a hopeful sixth-place team. Squeeze into the playoffs, and bow out in the first round.
But then I met Jay Tremonti, the named successor to the Royals men’s volleyball team. Passionate about volleyball, I saw a man who was fired up, not to be a part of something special, but to create something special. When I first saw the team that he was going to be coaching, I saw a group of hard-nosed kids who were going to fight for every game. I saw a team that was going to lose, but would find ways to bounce back and get at it again the next day. But for the first time in a long time at Douglas, I saw a team that was unsure. Unsure about where they were going to be at the end of the season, unsure of what their standing was in the league, and unsure of their identity as a team. However, one thing they were sure of was growth, and that really showed throughout the season.
After starting 4–0 to the year, the team went on of 2–8 run, going the span of nearly three months. Despite that, the team was still in playoff contention, and were looking better nearly every set. The cumulative grow of the team hit its spike in the final third of the season, specifically with a 3–2 thrilling win against the VIU Mariners and a 3–0 win over the Capilano Blues in the last two weeks leading into playoffs.
Their hard-nosed work ethic was rewarded in the PACWEST Volleyball Championships. Twice, the team found themselves down 2–1 against higher-seeded opponents. Twice, the team managed to pull themselves out of the hole and into a win. They did it so well, they won a Bronze for it. Coming into the season that wasn’t even in the picture. It goes to show how much the team has improved since the beginning of the season.
There are many contributing factors as to why the Royals were able to do what they did. Certainly, a 0–24 CBC team didn’t hurt the Royals. And a struggling 10–14 Capilano Blues team allowed the Royals to avoid the eventual tournament winners, the Camosun Chargers, in the Championships.
But the Royals had some pretty great players that made things happen this year. Justin Faester had a breakout offensive year. Jerry Yan was phenomenal for the Royals, and was named to the All-Rookie team for his efforts. Johnson Yi had a strong year, and Jarod Collins began to really control the Royals offence the way he needed to. However, where the Royals really stood out was from an area many people were doubting at the beginning of the season.
Devon Dunn came back to the court and absolutely showed the league what a pro level player looks like. His ability to paint the opponents court at any time made him a first team All-Star, and his performance in the Championships left commentators and analysts slack-jawed. His return to the Royals was filled with success, and the Bronze medal will certainly be a memory for him. However, Dunn has been confirmed to be moving on with his career, and will likely not be with the Royals next year. Rumours have him in Toronto, perhaps following in the footsteps of head coach Jay Tremonti at the University of Toronto. Where ever he ends up, it’ll be a tough fix for the Royals to fill his spot on the court.
That brings an end to the Royals year, but definitely not their story. With one of the younger rosters in the PACWEST, the Royals will be a threat for many years.