It was a hard fought end to a season chock-full of success for the defending champion Camosun Chargers men’s volleyball team whose quest for a repeat national title was saddled by a controversial fourth-place seeding and an untimely championship semi-final match that was as tight as it could have been against the top-ranked Red Deer College team. But as true champions and competitors the Chargers understand that how you a define your season is a matter of perspective.
“2015-16 was the best season of league play ever for the Chargers,” said Camosun Head Coach and recent Volleyball BC Hall of Fame inductee Charles Parkinson. “We went 12-0 in the first half, and at one point were 25-0 in matches, not losing for almost an entire calendar year – a remarkable feat and a testament to the caliber of the squad we had. Our performance at the Provincial Championships was also a highlight, especially the final where we rallied from two sets down to claim our second provincial title in a row and the fourth in the last eight years!”
“We were disappointed with our ranking going into the National Championships, primarily because we felt it showed a distinct lack of respect for our season-long performance, however, we were determined to put on the best show possible for ourselves and the many fans who have supported us all year.”
Seeded fourth, the Chargers were matched against the #5 Mohawk College Mountaineers in the opening round. As anticipated, Camosun took down their opponents soundly, walking away with a straight set victory (25-13, 25-18, 25-20). With the quarterfinal win in hand, the Chargers advanced to Friday evening’s semi-final match against the top-seeded Red Deer Kings (RDC). It was a battle that many volleyball aficionados had speculated to rival the gold medal match and the two volleyball powerhouses lived up to the expectation, delivering an epic five-set encounter that was in due course celebrated as the highlight of the championship. In the end, however, Camosun fell to the Kings who managed the win with a surge in the fifth set (25-18, 19-25, 19-25, 26-24, 15-11).
“Taking care of Mohawk in straight sets was gratifying and playing a terrific match against Red Deer College which was according to the players, officials and fans ‘the match of the tournament’ showed how far we have come as a team,” stated Coach Parkinson. “We were serving for the match at one point but to their credit RDC held fast and edged us out in a fifth set thriller.”
Camosun’s loss in the semi’s repositioned the Chargers to the bronze qualifier where the team would meet PACWEST adversary and tournament hosts, the Douglas College Royals. Coming off Friday evening’s heartbreaker with Red Deer, Camosun came into Saturday morning’s bronze qualifier determined to give playing opportunity to both current and future starting players and were hot out of the gate, capturing the first set 25-21. However, the host team would not go down without a fight and Douglas bounced back to win the next three sets and a shot at bronze (25-20, 25-17, 27-25). Camosun finished the tournament in the number five spot, while Red Deer finished as the gold medalists, Titans De Limoilou received silver and the Fanshawe Falcons captured bronze.
“The reality of sport is that you will lose more than you will win in your career,” stated Coach Parkinson. “Volleyball is a great game, but it is just that, a game … and you have to keep things in perspective. It’s okay to be disappointed … it’s a natural reaction to loss, but we said to our athletes that when you play your heart out and do everything you can for your team and your teammates you can move on with your head held high and your heart filled with pride. We just weren’t lucky this year on two crucial points and that’s how slim the margin is between success and loss at the higher levels.”
Over the three-day tournament, Player of the Match honors were awarded to Chargers Savana Walkingbear (fourth-year outside hitter from Turtleford, SK), third-year leftside Haakon Ostrem (Troms, Norway) and fifth-year middle Alex Sadowski (Belmont). Fifth-year setter Vitor Macedo (Rio de Janeiro) was named a First Team Championship All-Star and Savana Walkingbear earned a Second Team All-Star.
“Overall, it was a great season with a fantastic group of young men,” said Coach Parkinson. “The processes and struggles we went through together for almost eight months, day in and day out, match in and match out … that’s what memories and life-long bonds are made of.”
“Over the years we have seen our fan base grow and it is hard to put into words how important and special it is for the athletes and coaches to have this kind of local support, especially during difficult home matches. A special thank you goes out to everyone who cheered for us and sent us best wishes all year. We don’t say it enough – thank you for your passion, your cheering and your commitment to your team and your school. It is so appreciated!”
The Chargers will take a short break before beginning the cycle for the upcoming year. Watch for our announcements on next year’s squad!