Twenty teams began the Ontario Colleges Athletic Association men’s volleyball regular season with dreams of winning a provincial championship. After 180 matches, only a dozen teams still have hopes of winning the provincial title.
Of the 12, four are the lucky ones, having advanced straight to the OCAA championship. They include East regional champion Algonquin College (17-1), West champion Humber College (16-2), Fanshawe College (second best in the West with a 14-4 mark) and OCAA championship host Georgian College (9-9).
The fate of the remaining eight teams will be determined this weekend in the OCAA qualifying round. Teams will play an opponent from the opposite division based on seeding for the opportunity to advance to provincials.
The elite eight will be on display at the OCAA Men’s Volleyball Championship from Feb. 20-22 at Georgian College in Barrie.
Redeemer (10-8, 5th West) at George Brown (13-5, 3rd East)
Saturday, Feb. 15 – 1 p.m.
The Redeemer Royals are the defending OCAA bronze medalists, but are faced with defeating George Brown on the road if they wish to medal this season.
Redeemer third-year right side Eric Heidbuurt (Waterdown) is among the top offensive players in the OCAA, averaging 3.37 kills and 4.3 points per set. The Royals have struggled lately, losing three of their last four games to end the regular season.
George Brown has won four straight to end its regular season on a winning note. The Huskies have a trio of players in John Luu and Shaun Lasala (both Mississauga), and Edwin Sheon (Toronto), each averaging over 3.0 points per set. George Brown was swept at home by Mohawk in the qualifying round last season.
The winner advances to the OCAA quarter-finals against Fanshawe.
St. Clair (10-8, 6th West) at Durham (16-2, 2nd East)
Saturday, Feb. 15 – 1 p.m.
In other seasons, Durham would have already punched its ticket to the provincials with its second place finish in the East. But with an automatic bye going to host Georgian, the Lords are forced to play one more match.
Durham has dominated the East this season, with its only losses coming at George Brown and Algonquin. The Lords boast a perfect 8-0 mark at home, and are led by Paul Rapos (Oshawa) and Brad vanHartingsveldt (Newcastle), who are both averaging over 3.1 points per set.
St. Clair is in unfamiliar territory, having not reached the post-season since 2008. The upstart Saints are a streaky bunch, with win streaks of four, three and two games during the regular season. They also lost four straight at one point. St. Clair won three of its last four matches to clinch a spot in the qualifier.
The Saints are led offensively by fourth-year right side Jason Hernandez (Harrow) who is averaging 3.72 kills and 4.3 points per set.
The victor takes on the winner of the Canadore-Niagara qualifier.
Loyalist (11-7, 4th East) at Mohawk (12-6, 4th West)
Saturday, Feb. 15 – 4 p.m.
The Mohawk Mountaineers have earned OCAA medals in each of the last three seasons, but will need to defeat Loyalist to keep the streak alive.
Mohawk is entering the post-season on a down note, having lost two straight. This after a seven-match win streak. The Mountaineers are led by first-year player Bryce Marcussen (Strathroy) and his 3.4 points per set average.
Loyalist has split its last six matches, but is coming off a four-set win over Fleming. The Lancers are led by first-year left side Jacob White (Brockville) and his 3.63 kills and 4.3 points per set average. Loyalist just missed out on the post-season in 2013 after a 9-11 mark.
The winner takes on Algonquin in the OCAA quarter-finals.
Canadore (8-10, 6th East) at Niagara (14-4, 3rd West)
Sunday, Feb. 16 – 1 p.m.
Former OCAA West foes Canadore and Niagara square off in the final qualifier.
Like St. Clair, it’s been an upstart season for Canadore after winning just two matches last season. The Panthers went 6-4 in their final 10 regular season games to clinch a post-season berth. First-year right side Charlie Hancock (North Bay) leads Canadore and the entire OCAA averaging 4.64 kills per set. He was second in the OCAA averaging 5.2 points per set.
Niagara won 11 straight to open the 2013-14 season, but lost four of its next five, costing the Knights a bye into provincials. Niagara won its final two matches to enter the qualifying round on a high.
Niagara third-year outside hitter Daniel Groenveld (Welland) was fifth among OCAA players averaging 3.82 kills and 4.4 points per set. The Knights advanced to the OCAA bronze medal match last season, and was host to 2013 nationals.
The victor takes on the winner of the St. Clair-Durham qualifier.