By Bonita Joe

(ISN) – With the PACWEST Provincial Championships just one week away, the Camosun College Chargers men’s and women’s volleyball teams will be put to the test in their final double header of the season as they travel to Nanaimo this weekend to take on the conference’s No. 1 VIU Mariners.

With a record of 20-2, the Mariners women are not only top in the PACWEST standings, the squad is also ranked No. 1 in the country.  The VIU men are also nationally ranked and are currently the CCAA’s No. 2 team with a league record of 18-4.

Upon first glance, some may view the matchup as a David and Goliath affair with both Chargers teams sitting in fifth place in the PACWEST standings but according to the Chargers coaches, the teams are looking good and so are their chances.

Despite dropping both their matches against the nation’s fourth ranked University of the Fraser Valley Cascades last weekend, the Chargers women proved they could go toe- to- toe with the country’s top hitters by forcing the Cascades to five in each of their two match ups and adding four huge sets to program’s growing collection.

“I feel that our improved level of performance on the weekend is a result of sound planning, deliberate application of a process over the course of a long season and unwavering belief in a journey from our athletes,” said Chargers Head Coach Chris Dahl.  “The versatility and diversity of skill sets our athletes possess and have developed over the course of the season has given us great flexibility in our lineups and potential match-ups when looking to leverage our strengths on the court.  In going up against VIU this weekend, we will continue to seek improvement in our game.  It’s what we’ve preached all year.”

On the men’s side, Head Coach Charles Parkinson and his crew of Camosun combatants split their double header weekend with UFV, falling in four sets on Saturday and following up with a straight set win on Sunday which secured their spot in the playoffs.

“The matches against UFV last weekend were interesting and pressure-filled to say the least,” commented Coach Parkinson.  “Both teams were tied in the standings and for the Chargers a win would mean automatic qualification for the BC Championships.  Sometimes, and Friday night was an example, passion can overcome reason and logic and I thought we tried too hard to be perfect.  As a result we were far less than perfect, committing 12 errors in each of sets 3 and 4.  Our athletes just tried too hard and although we were close, UFV shut the door on us. On Sunday, we watched some tape as a team but built our game plan around playing much calmer, staying within our own abilities and not trying to do too much, rather than exploring technical modifications. Although we started slowly, we built momentum as the match progressed and other than the first set, UFV was never really in contention. Our 3-0 victory cemented our play-off berth and means that we can head into this weekend’s double header at VIU with a more relaxed and confident attitude.”

When the Chargers and Mariners faced off back in October, the Mariners came out on top in both matches.  The Chargers pushed VIU to five extremely close sets in the first match (25-18, 81-25, 25-23, 23-25, 15-13) and then lost in three the next day (25-22, 25-15, 25-23).  Pointing to the fact that VIU will be Camosun’s semi- final opponents at Provincials if the Chargers win their first round match up, Coach Parkinson is looking forward to the opportunity to go up against the Mariners one last time before the playoffs. 

“The weekend will allow us to see how far they’ve come and to explore their weaknesses, especially on serve reception and defence, while at the same time gaining a better understanding of where we need to be better as well,” said Coach Parkinson.  “Player for player, we stack up really well against our up Island rivals and if we can stay consistent and limit our errors, I like our chances!”

Catch the Island rivals battle it out this weekend at Vancouver Island University in Nanaimo or watch the action LIVE on SportsCanadaTV.