Men’s volleyball season in review
By Davie Wong, Sports Editor
The men’s volleyball program at Douglas College has been the apex of the PACWEST since the turn of the decade. This year was a little different for the elite squad led by long-time coach Brad Hudson. Not only were they up against some of the best competition that the PACWEST had seen in years, but they were also in the same conference as the defending National Champions, the Camosun Chargers.
The opening roster had many hopeful that this year would be the one that the boys brought it all home. They would go on to dominate in the regular season, losing only 4 times in 24 games. They would end their regular season on an 11-game winning streak and headed into the playoffs as final favourites. Of course, the other favourites were none other than the defending provincial champions, the Camosun Chargers.
The two giants clashed in the finals for the right to bring the banner home. In a five set epic, the Chargers reclaimed their title, as the Royals had a very rare meltdown. Disappointed and dejected, the team took little time to bounce back as they looked forward to hosting the National Championships.
The 7 best teams in Canada converged on Douglas College for the chance to be National Champions. The Royals, knocked out of gold contention in the first round of action, fought their way back to c0mpete for bronze. Along the way, they eliminated a number of teams from across Canada, including taking sweet revenge on their provincial rivals, Camosun.
However, they would ultimately fall in the bronze medal game, falling just short of their medal ambitions. Despite the result, the team can be very proud of the progress they have made this year.
Yet, none of it would have been possible if not for the play of some key figures. Second-year player, Caleb Konrad had a fantastic year for the Royals, bagging a spot on the first-team All-Star squad. Fellow second-year Carson Heppell and third-year George Thompson were also fantastic for the Royals, and bagged spots on the second-team All-Star squad. Thompson finished sixth in average kills per set, and ninth in average total offensive stats in the PACWEST. Meanwhile, Heppell finished eleventh in average kills per set, sixth in average aces per set, and tenth in average total offensive stats per set.
The squad also boasted several rookies that were notable in their freshman year. Jordan Loewan was impressive for the Royals from libero. He finished the year ranked fourth in average digs per set, and made the PACWEST All-Rookie team.
But even with all that talent, it would mean nothing without the man who has always tied it all together. Brad Hudson has been the centrepiece of the Royals men’s volleyball program for longer than most can remember. Year after year, as his team constantly shifts, it has been Hudson that remained the constant. This year he played 17 different starting lineups during the regular season, and managed to get wins out of nearly all of them. For his accomplishments, he receive yet another PACWEST coach of the year award.
Unfortunately, it will be his last award as the head coach of the Royals. At the end of the National Championship, Hudson announced that he would be stepping down from the team.
He is not the only member of the team leaving in this time of turnover. As of now, co-captain Nick Lightfoot and outside hitter George Thompson, have committed to the Mount Royal University Cougars for the 2016-17 season. Their transfer leaves a huge gap in the Royals lineup, and surely foreshadows a barrage of changes as the search for a new head coach begins.