The Camosun Chargers men’s and women’s volleyball teams suffered three tough losses over the January 8-9 weekend as they took to the road against the hosting University of the Fraser Valley Cascades (UFV). The Chargers women fell in both Friday and Saturday’s matches while the men came away with a split, thus ending their 13-game winning streak. Despite some disappointing moments, Camosun remains at the top of the PACWEST standings (Men #1; Women T#2) and both squads are nationally ranked, with the men at No. 2 and the women rounding out the Top 10.
Personnel issues plagued the Chargers women’s bench which was short a number of players, including the squad’s two setters.
“We struggled with a lack of personnel,” commented Head Coach Chris Dahl. “I’d be remiss if I didn’t come out and make that statement after a weekend where we dressed eight healthy bodies in competition. The sport of volleyball often focuses on a select few players or positions, but those involved are fully aware that it’s an incredible team sport. You are challenged to find success without a fully functioning roster of athletes in their various roles. When you head into a weekend shorthanded, there’s a very good chance that your opportunities for success are going to be decreased.”
Despite the lack of healthy bodies, Coach Dahl acknowledges that the team was not without its opportunities. The Chargers were defeated by the lower-ranked Cascades (#5) in three sets on Friday (25-18, 25-23, 25-18) and again in Saturday’s five-set battle (25-18, 19-25, 25-20, 25-22).
“We definitely could have done more,” he stated. “The areas of success from this past weekend did not come from the positional shifts we made out of necessity, they came from sound volleyball plays executed by attentive athletes. The failures we experienced were very much the opposite. Our athletes expect to be sharper and more efficient from start to finish in a match. I think they would agree that we could have done a much better job.”
It was a split decision in men’s action with Camosun and UFV going to five in both matches and each taking away one. On Friday, the undefeated, defending CCAA National Champion Chargers claimed their 13th straight victory of the season (23-25, 25-21, 21-25, 25-22, 15-12). The Cascades answered back the following day to pull the upset (21-25, 26-24, 25-22, 19-25, 15-9) and consequently end Camosun’s historic winning streak which has been inked into the books as 25 consecutive matches won from late January 2015.
“UFV had a very good weekend and combined strong execution with resolve,” said Head Coach Charles Parkinson. “They are a very good team and even though we have now beaten them three times out of four this season, we have great respect for their individual abilities and passion to play. I never once thought we would have an undefeated season because our league is just too strong for that and it was just a matter of time before we came up against an opponent who was slightly better on the day. The reality is that earning a split on the road is always a good accomplishment but we have become a bit spoiled by our results. It is good to lose early rather than late because we now understand that fight that every team is going to bring to us in the second half and we have to be prepared to whether the storms and answer strongly when we are challenged.”
Filling in over the past weekend for Coach Parkinson, who was on play-by-play duty at the 2016 Men’s NORCECA Olympic Qualification Tournament in Edmonton, was a pack of past and present AC’s led by Andy Inglis who made his Head Coaching debut.
“Talk about trial by fire,” exclaimed Coach Parkinson. “I’m not sure how many coaches have had their Head Coaching debut feature back-to-back five-set matches. From all the reports I have received Andy made all the right decisions at the right times. He was helped by our two Assistant Coaches – Gord Inglis and Garrett Marcellus – and we also invited former Assistant Coach Dave Dooley to join our team on the bench. I know they all spent a lot of time between matches analyzing both the video and the statistics and worked hard to come away from this road trip with the split. Andy has all the right characteristics to be a great College or CIS coach. He also has a great eye and strong instincts and just needs to keep layering on the experience.”
This weekend, the Chargers enjoy some time at home and play host to the Columbia Bible College Bearcats. Both CBC squads are struggling to make it into the Top 6; the women have won only 3 of 11 matches while the men remain winless. Meanwhile, the Camosun men and women will be looking to add this Friday and Saturday’s matches to their win columns while working on refining their games.
“Serving is our first priority this week,” stated Men’s Head Coach Charles Parkinson. ”Putting more pressure on all our opponents from the service line is something we have to be better at. And not just whether it’s a spin or a float that we put over, we also need to be tactical in the location of our serves and confident in our toss and hand contact. We’ll also be working on smoothing out the way that we attack the ball off serve receive so passing is at the top of our list this week as well. We made far too many errors against UFV last weekend and it makes it very difficult to win if you continually miss serves and can’t establish any offensive rhythm.”
“Win or lose, I feel that athletes are keen to get back on the court and prove themselves better than their previous performance,” said Women’s Head Coach Chris Dahl. “We remain uncertain of the status of our roster at present. We anticipate having healthy bodies back in uniform, but these are the trials and tribulations of the season. Illness and injury never find a convenient time in an athlete’s schedule. Our challenge is to start to demonstrate behaviours and patterns of play in competition with greater consistency. We’re well into a stage in the season where we look for refinements in the game. A stage where decision making and technical execution succeeds with greater frequency. Of course, this is happening, but the second semester demands an accelerated growth curve. If you’re about learning and growth, there’s no better time.”
Catch the Chargers men’s and women’s volleyball teams this weekend at the Pacific Institute for Sport Excellence in Victoria.
Camosun Chargers host CBC Bearcats
Friday, January 15 Women 6pm; Men 8pm
Saturday, January 16 Women 1pm; Men 3pm