Entering this week’s PACWEST Men’s Volleyball Provincial Championship as the #2 seeded team, the four-time reigning champion Chargers will begin their Drive for Five on Friday, in the semifinal round of the playoffs.
Today, Head Coach Charles Parkinson spoke on what has made the team so successful at past championships, and what might give them the edge to capture another title.
Q: As the reigning 4-time PACWEST champions, the Chargers have been the team to beat for the past several years. Heading into this year’s championship (and the potential of winning a record-breaking five titles in a row), do you feel the bullseye on the Chargers’ back is bigger than ever?
A: It is always difficult to win a championship…you have to be healthy, injury free and lucky with your match-ups and the bounces of the ball. That we have been able to capture four in-a-row is a reflection of our annual plan, the work that our coaching staff and SAT’s put in throughout the season, and the determination and character of our athletes. We are approaching this championship as no different from any other year because everyone is as motivated to beat us as we are to win the title again. The trick is for our athletes to be able to play freely and trust their hundreds of hours of training. Our experience tells us that it’s really difficult to win any championship if your mental approach is to play not to mistakes, so our approach will be to be excited but relaxed, competitive but controlled, and free swinging but disciplined. Do we feel the pressure – yes, but no more than any other team trying to get to number one.
Q: Entering the race as the 2nd seeded team with a first round bye, the Chargers will face the winner of Thursday’s quarterfinal matchup between the Capilano Blues and CBC Bearcats. Can you give a quick comparison of how the Chargers will match up against each of those teams in Friday’s semifinal?
A: We are 3 and 1 against the Blues and 4 and 0 against the Bearcats, but this was during the regular season. Former Chargers Assistant Coach Dave Dooley is at the helm of Capilano and he has done a terrific job of toughening them up mentally, in addition to the technical and tactical modifications he has instituted. They are a really difficult team to beat because their spectacular defense allows them to bring up many balls that would be killed against other squads, and their setter Simon Friesen has the skill to put the ball right where the hitters want and need it in transition. We found that out during our last two matches against them which both went five sets and which we split in terms of the outcome. Even though CBC has improved, I don’t think they have the horses or the experience this season to overtake the Blues and I fully expect a Camosun-Capilano match-up in the semi-final. We will have to be consistent and creative and play to our game plan if we want to make it through to the final.
Q: As it has often been said, anything can happen in any given match, but what do you think will give Camosun the edge to being successful at the championship, and possibly to its fifth consecutive title?
A: If you examine the variables, there is little advantage for any team other than the hosts in this Championship. Most teams will have traveled from the coast to get to Cranbrook so there is little advantage there. With the exception of COTR’s encounters, most matches will be played on neutral territory so there is little fan advantage to be gained. Each team has about the same level of familiarity with the facility that we will be playing in so there is no advantage there either. If Camosun does have a small advantage it lies in the fact that our coaches and athletes have played in many of the biggest matches in the PACWEST over the past five years and we have a number of players who have been starters on our teams that actually won the title. There really is no substitute for experience in pressure-filled environments and we are hoping that this will be helpful for us. At the end of the day, though, we can’t rely on any advantage, perceived or real. The only thing we can control is ourselves and our goal is to earn our championship by staying focused on the process moment by moment rather than dwelling on the outcome.
The #2 seeded Chargers will start their Drive for Five in Friday’s semifinal match scheduled for 3pm (MT). Please note the match will start at 2pm for fans watching from the Pacific Time zone.
Fri, Feb 22 3pm (MT)/2pm (PT) Camosun (#2) vs Winner of Match 1 Watch Live