After 20 years of failing to qualify for the CIS championship tournament, the men’s volleyball team’s season came to a disappointing end after being knocked out from title contention by the Alberta Golden Bears — the defending CIS champions.</p>
Head coach Chris Lawson pointed at youth and underperformance as the culprits that led the team to its poor showing at the CIS championship tournament. Imprint made several attempts at contacting Lawson, but the coach was unavailable due to personal reasons.
“Unfortunately, we did not play very well,” Lawson said in a Warriors’ game recap. “Probably our worst two matches of the year were here at this tournament. But that’s a result of being extremely young.”
The Warriors couldn’t match up against the Golden Bears’ level of play as the defending champions cruised to a straight-sets victory in the quarter-finals match (25-14, 25-12, 25-22).
The loss showed not only how unseasoned the Warriors are, but also their inexperience against elite teams on a national stage.
“We are younger and less experienced, and it showed,” Lawson said.
Lawson spoke about the challenges of going from good to elite when evaluating this season and the improvement of the men’s volleyball program over the years.
“I was just talking to the guys [about how] it’s not hard to go [from] poor to OK. It’s a little tougher to go from OK to good. And it’s very difficult to go from good to exceptional. That’s a hurdle we have to get over,” he said.
Fifth -ear player, Jordan Dyck, suffered a concussion during the Warrior’s quarter-final match against the Golden Bears. The concussion not only ended his season, but his tenure as a Warrior athlete. Imprint contacted Dyck, but he was unable to answer questions because he said he was not in a proper state of mind due to his concussion.
After being knocked out of the tournament, the Warriors met in a matchup against the York Lions to determine consolation positions five through eight.
The matchup seemed favourable for the Warriors, as they had defeated the Lions in four of their six regular season meetings. However, the Lions outlasted the Warriors in a marathon five-set match, guaranteeing the Warriors a last-place finish at the tournament.
The disappointment of the two losses overshadowed a very successful season for the men’s volleyball team, where they finished third in the OUA standings, claimed silver at the OUA championship tournament, and ranked sixth countrywide prior to CIS.
Although the Warriors’ 20-year absence in the CIS championship was evident in their performance at the tournament, Lawson believes the program continued to take steps in the right direction.
“At points, we had five second-year athletes on the floor,” he said. “No one in our program has been in a CIS championship. We started baby steps and each year we are getting a little better.”