Men’s volleyball takes home silver
By Davie Wong, Sports Editor
They say that winning bronze feels better than losing gold. While the value of silver is still higher than bronze, at least when you win bronze, you’re actually finishing on a win. No one would know the feeling better than the men, who made it so far this weekend, 0nly to fall just short.
The team started their weekend off a day later than most of the competition as their excellent regular season earned them a bye into the semifinals. The first team in their way to gold was the challenging VIU Mariners. Coming off of a strong win against the Capilano Blues, the Mariners were looking to upset the number two seeded Royals.
But the Royals are nothing to be trifled with, and they started their playoff run with a strong message. They pummeled the Mariners in the first, taking it 25-17. The beating seemed to have awaken the Mariners squad, who responded. However, their efforts were futile against the defensive strength of the Royals. They could not find a way through the hands of Douglas’ front row, who time and time again sent promising looking kills into the VIU court. Although VIU managed to tighten up the game significantly, the Royals ended up taking that set as well, 25-22.
Desperation set in as the Mariners realized just how close they were to being eliminated. Backed into the corner, VIU lashed out with all their efforts in an attempt to stay in the game. Re-organizing their players, the Mariners were able to successfully stop the Royals from sweeping. Blocking many of the Royals’ attempted kills, VIU was able to regain their composure and take their first set 25-20.
With a comeback in the midst, the Royals knew that they needed to end things soon. They stormed the Mariners, going 8-0 to start the set. Sensing his team needed a break, the Mariners coach called a timeout that stalled the Douglas offence. Whatever was said to the VIU team during the break worked, as they came out and laid down the law. They scored nine in a row after the timeout, taking the lead and shocking the Royals.
But the comeback was not meant to be as the Royals adapted to the Mariners’ new strategy. They put an end to VIU’s golden ambitions as they sealed the set, 25-20. Carson Heppell was named Player of the Game and finished with 20 kills, 3 blocks, and an ace. With that, they also sealed their ticket to the final.
The gold medal game featured rival and defending National champions, the Camosun Chargers. Fresh off their dominating victory over the fifth place, College of the Rockies, the Chargers were looking to retain their provincial championship title.
It was bound to be a heavyweight matchup, and did it ever play like one. With both teams starting their best possible lineups, the first set was an explosive one. There was no rallying in the first set as both teams made no mistakes off the serves, killing the ball immediately after or after one or two short rotations.
Possession was traded back and forth as the teams took turns beating the ball into the ground. Both sides sought a defining lead to no avail. Camosun took the lead at 26-25, but the Royals would not be beat, and swung the set over to their side with a decisive three-point rally, taking it 28-26.
Using that momentum from the first set, Douglas came out in the second pushing hard. They got an early lead and never let go. Heppell was once again huge for the Royals. Behind his play, and the defensive play of Jordan Loewan, Douglas was able to hold onto to their early lead and drive home the set win, 25-20.
With a commanding lead going into the third, things were looking promising for the Royals. Players seemingly began to relax and grow complacent with their lead. What had been sharp serving and attentive blocking faltered. The Chargers knew to do anything but look a gift horse in the mouth, and immediately converted the Royals complacency into a set win.
Off the back of that momentous win, the Chargers started the fourth in a hurry, charging out to an 8-2 lead. While slow to respond, the Royals eventually picked their tempo back up to the intensity level of the Chargers. Unfortunately, by the time they got there, it was too late. The Chargers picked up the fourth set with a 25-21 win and what was once a 2-0 lead, was now a 2-2 tie.
It all came down to the fifth and final set. It was do or die for both teams. Like the fourth, the Chargers came out strong, taking an early lead. But the Royals would not relent, and tied things up nearing the end. Douglas and Camosun danced around each other, trading blow for blow, with neither team letting up. One stumble was all it took, and it was the Royals who stumbled first. Just as quickly as the Royals tied it, the Chargers ended it. With a thunderous roar, the Camosun team stormed the court, while the Douglas players looked on, stunned.
Heppell and George Thompson were named tournament all-stars, but it was all a blur as the men reflected on what could have been. Despite the loss, the team is headed to the National Championships, and will quickly shift their attention to that.