The Canadian Colleges Athletic Association volleyball season’s just begun, but men’s convenor Leigh Goldie is already anticipating a knock-down drag-out season for all.
He notes the CCAA typically produces high-quality players – including many National Team members. “The sport is very competitive, and every year the calibre of play is very strong,” says Goldie. “CCAA men’s volleyball is the one program where players consistently end up playing on the national team. Most years, half of the men’s national team played in the CCAA.”
One early surprise was the Briercrest Clippers, representing a small Christian college in Caronport, Sask, who topped the ACAC (Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference), winner of 14 of the past 16 CCAA men’s titles. “We’re excited, but we know we have a ton of work to do,” said head coach Nigel Mullan Jr.
“We’re not satisfied with where we are and continue to take strides towards our goal of winning the ACAC and CCAA Championships.” However, as of the end of November, the Clippers had slipped a few notches, with Edmonton’s King’s University College best in the conference, ranked No. 3 nationally.
Always a threat is Quebec’s RSEQ (Réseau du sport étudiant du Québec) league. It is consistently strong, and Goldie believes a Quebec school has a shot at winning it all again this year. Cégep Limoilou Titans, the defending champions from Québec City, are currently in 8th spot nationally, but they could come “fighting back” to another title in March.
Currently sitting in the top spot is Cégep Sherbrooke from Sherbrooke, Que. As 2011 hosts the Volontaires are guaranteed a spot in the tournament, but the team appears strong enough to make it on its own merits. Hard-hitting Nicolas Hoag suited up for the National Team this past summer and right side Daniel Moreau made the practice squad.
“As championship hosts, our focus during the regular season is performance,” says coach Pascal Boulanger. “The important thing is to increase our individual and collective skills.”
The University of British Columbia Okanagan Heat from Kelowna, B.C look likely to attend nationals as well. Currently sitting at No.2,the Heat took home bronze in 2010; their third national medal in four years. Greg Poitras, CCAA’s 2009-10 coach of the year across all sports, says his team is hungry for more.
“We have two athletes on our team that have played and medaled in two CCAA national championships,” said Poitras. “We feel the pieces are there to be the top team in the league.”
Teams from all five provincial conferences are ranked in the CCAA’s top 15, including the No. 4 Fanshawe Falcons and the No. 7 Humber Hawks from Ontario. All are battling to earn a spot at the CCAA Men’s Volleyball Championships, which take place March 10-12, 2011 at Cegep de Sherbrooke.
Men’s Top 10
1. Cégep de Sherbrooke
2. University of British Columbia Okanagan
3. University of King’s College
4. Fanshawe College
5. Briercrest Bible College and Semenary
6. Douglas College
7. Humber College
8. Cégep de Limoilou
9. Red Deer College
10. Columbia Bible College