After spending a good portion of the season not being ranked nationally, the Mohawk men’s volleyball team, gold medal winners at the Ontario Colleges Athletic Association championship, find themselves seeded No. 2 for the Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association national championship Thursday to Saturday (March 6-8) in Moose Jaw Saskatchewan.
But while this would indicate they are one of the favourites, head coach Matthew Schnarr feels his Mountaineers are still playing the underdog role.
“The ranking we got is being called a fluke by many,” said Schnarr. “If you look at the write-ups for the national championship, you hear a lot about Red Deer and (Humber’s) Terrel Bramwell and not much about us, except we upset Humber in our provincial championship. So as much as the number two ranking suggests we are a favourite, we are looking to gain respect as a program, in not only our own province and college, but the nation.”
Outside of Mark Kaveckas and Marcin Jedrzejewski, Mohawk’s lineup consists of first and second year players and one might wonder how the pressure of a national championship tournament might affect the young players. But the coach says this situation has been addressed.
“I think we deal with this by reminding them it has been a part of our goal all season and that we earned this opportunity and to enjoy the experience, but that is just playing volleyball,” said Schnarr.
“I think our trip to Florida helped immensely with our preparation, as the team understands the travelling part, preparation and playing away from home. As long as we don’t let the idea of playing at nationals consume our head space and we go out there and execute the game plan, we will be prepared.”
The Mountaineers open play Thursday against the seventh seeded St. Thomas University Tommies of Fredericton, New Brunswick.
The schedule is as follows (all times CST):
Thursday March 6
Match #1, 1 p.m. – Red Deer Kings vs St Jerome Cheminots
Match # 2, 3 p.m. – Humber Hawks vs CBC Bearcats
Match # 3, 6 p.m – Mohawk Mountaineers vs St Thomas Tommies
Match # 4, 8 p.m. – Douglas Royals vs Briercrest Clippers
Friday March 7
Match # 5, 1 p.m. – Losers of match 1 & 2
Match # 6, 3 p.m. – Losers of match 3 & 4
Match # 7, 6 p.m. – Winners of match 1 & 2 (semi-final)
Match # 8, 8 p.m. – Winners of match 3 & 4 (semi-final)
Saturday March 8
Match # 9, 10 a.m. – Losers of match 7 & Winners of match 6
Match # 10, Noon – Losers of match 8 vs. Winners of match 5
Match # 11, 2 p.m. – Losers of match 5 & 6 (7th/8th place)
Match # 12, 6 p.m. – Winners of match 9 & 10 (Bronze Medal)
Match # 13, 8 p.m. – Winners of match 7 & 8 (Gold Medal)
Host Briercrest College and Seminary will have the latest results, news and photos from the 2014 CCAA Men’s Volleyball National Championship website: http://www.ccaa.ca/national-championship-s15090
All games will be webcast on SportsCanada.tv.