For the first time in five years the VIU men’s volleyball team will compete in the Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association National Championships, while the women—reigning champions—were upset in the semi-final and lost the opportunity to defend their title.
The men’s squad punched their ticket to Nationals with a silver medal performance at the PacWest Provincial Championships last month in Cranbrook. VIU entered the tournament in second place, giving them a bye to the semi-finals where they defeated their rivals Camosun College 3–1 (22–25, 29–27, 25–23, 25–18).
VIU earned their position at Nationals by advancing to the finals, but fell to Capilano University 3–1 (24–26, 23–25, 25–12, 20–25). Capilano peaked at the right time by knocking off number-one seeded Douglas College before meeting the Mariners. Both teams will represent the PacWest conference at Nationals in Ontario Mar. 7–9.
Several Mariners had strong tournaments, including Lee Hamilton who was selected as a first team All-Star. Adam Tishenko and Tory Zaytsoff were named to the second team and Zach Grigg made the tournament All-Rookie team.
Hamilton and Grigg also won PacWest Player and Rookie of the Year, respectively.
The Mariners will begin Nationals ranked fifth of the eight clubs competing, with their first game versus the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT) on Mar. 7. The winner will automatically advance to the semi-finals with the loser playing a quarter-final match.
Meanwhile, the women’s team suffered a disappointing semi-final loss at Provincials to Columbia Bible College (CBC) and failed to qualify for the National Championships for the first time since 2005, and just the second time in the past 15 seasons.
The M’s did salvage a bronze medal, keeping VIU’s Provincials medal streak alive at 23 seasons.
The women’s team also earned a bye to the semi-finals with a second-place finish in the regular season standings, meeting CBC after their quarter-final victory over Douglas College in straight sets. The semi-final was a close affair, with the Mariners narrowly losing 3–2 (25–16, 23–25, 25–19, 22–25, 15–17). CBC went on to lose the final 3–0.
VIU had trouble with CBC early in the season, and in Nov. the Mariners were handed their only loss to a team below them in the standings all year. VIU then dominated their second meeting by winning both matches 3–0 in Jan.
“They’re kind of this Dr. Jekyll team,” says head coach Shane Hyde earlier in the season of CBC’s hot-and-cold performances.
“We came up against a team that was red hot, we couldn’t make an error or they would capitalize…They’ve got two amazing hitters, that if we let them get hot they can do some damage on us for sure.”
Despite only competing in one match, Leanna Gildersleeve and Dani Smith were named as tournament first team All-Stars. Alyssa Wolf made the second team, while Megan Groenendijk and Megan Rosenlund were selected to the All-Rookie team.
While the women’s season is over, the men are seeking their first Nationals medal since 2007. VIU Nation can follow the action online at <www.ccaa.ca>.