Mohawk Mountaineers ready to climb in volleyball, softball and rugby

Mohawk Mountaineers men’s volleyball team will roll out its 2006 edition on Friday night in an exhibition game. City and Ontario Colleges Athletic Association rivals Redeemer Royals will provide the opposition at Mohawk’s Fennell Campus gym. Gametime is 6 p.m.

Mountaineers are looking to repeat last year’s undefeated record that resulted in the OCAA title and a berth in the national final where they finished fifth.

Mountaineers head coach James Bradley has seven returning players, about half of the players in training camp. He anticipates Redeemer will test his squad, noting the Royals are “always scrappy and energetic.”

The preseason game will give the Mohawk coach an opportunity to look at his system and how it fits his personnel. “It’s going to be a good chance to see where we are, at this point of the (college) year.”

And while the V-ballers are doing their season tuneup, the Mohawk’s women’s fastball team will open regular season play in the OCAA on the same evening. The Seneca Sting will visit Mohawk Sports Park for a 5:30 p.m. contest against last year’s provincial bronze medallists.

And Mountaineers’ head coach Brian Weller is optimistic Mohawk should be just as competitive. Returning are pitchers Jenny Koschanow and Katie Westoby who had stellar rookie seasons. Also back are catchers Dana Steckle and Meaghan Nadwodny as well as middle infielder Katey Trevaskis. And Weller is particularly pleased with what he considers a very promising group of prospects.

“Much of our success last year rested on our pitching”, said Weller, “but this year the new players should give us a better overall team. We still have our pitching and catching core from last year, but I expect to be much stronger up the middle and especially in the outfield with this new group of players.”

On Mohawk’s rugby pitch, the men’s team will invade Sir Sandford Fleming College in Peterborough to battle the Knights.

Last season, the men started off at 0-3, but in their final three games rattled off two wins and a tie. While it wasn’t good enough to make the playoffs, the late season resurgence bouyed coach Alex Paris’ returning troops for the 2006 season.

Paris feels he will have a bigger and faster back line with the return of Brian Pearman, who had a successful summer with the Stoney Creek Rugby Club and the Niagara Thunder of the Canada Super League. Also coming back is Darcy Palmer.

Tyler Struyk returns after a 7-0 season with the Hamilton Hornets and leads the forwards, along with returnees Andrew Welsby and Dylan Grubar.

Paris says the addition of forwards Jeff Perssia, Steve Johnston and Frank Tombol makes the forwards bigger, faster and more aggressive. Mohawk will play Georgian College in Barrie on Saturday, Sept. 23 before its first home game at Mohawk Sports Complex on Tuesday, Sept. 26 at 5 p.m. when Conestoga visits.