The Columbia Bible College Bearcats dealt with more than their share of adversity at the CCAA men’s volleyball national championship in Moose Jaw, Sask. last week, but they battled through it and came within a whisker of a podium finish.
After knocking off the Humber Hawks in the quarter-finals on Thursday, the Bearcats faced the top-seeded Red Deer Kings in the semis on Friday. CBC won the first set and were ahead in the second when star setter Jason Warkentin crashed into the referee’s stand and sprained his ankle.
Warkentin somehow managed to finish the game, but the Kings took over at that point and won in four sets (22-25, 25-21, 25-20, 25-12).
That left the ‘Cats in a situation where they had to win two games on Saturday to secure a bronze medal, and they got halfway there despite the fact Warkentin was unable to play.
With Jeremy Lieuwen shifting from his usual libero position to take over setting duties, CBC knocked off their PacWest conference rival Douglas Royals in four sets (21-25, 25-20, 25-15, 29-27) on Saturday morning. The Royals had beaten the Bearcats in the PacWest title game two weeks prior, but the Bearcats gained a measure of revenge and Lieuwen, with four kills, one ace and 16 digs, earned player of the game honours.
“Jeremy did a fantastic job,” CBC coach Phil Wiens said. “He hasn’t set all year, and as far as I know, he’s never really set before.
“We were just blown away. He showed a lot of character, a lot of heart, and embraced the role.”
The Bearcats had a rematch with Humber for bronze, but the Hawks prevailed in four sets (25-20, 21-25, 25-17, 25-20). Leigh Goosen earning the player of the game award for the Bearcats.
Wiens noted his squad was disappointed in the result, but he lauded the way they responded in Warkentin’s absence.
“That’s sport – you face adversity,” he said. “We were just so proud of how the guys battled after that. It would have been easy to give up.”
“We felt we were one of the top three teams there, and we felt we could win the championship. But at the same time, I’m very proud of the guys and very happy with the level of effort and level of play they demonstrated.”
The Bearcats’ Will Quiring and Brendan Folkerts were named second team tourney all-stars, and CBC took home the fair play award.