Bearcats win national volleyball title

The Columbia Bible College men's volleyball team pulled off an epic upset on Saturday evening in Sherbrooke, Que. to clinch the Abbotsford school's first national championship.

The Columbia Bible College men's volleyball team celebrated the first national championship in school history on Saturday in Sherbrooke

The Columbia Bible College men's volleyball team celebrated the first national championship in school history on Saturday in Sherbrooke

Making history isn’t supposed to be easy, but the gauntlet the Columbia Bible College men’s volleyball team ran en route to the school’s first CCAA national championship was off the charts in its degree of difficulty.The Bearcats, seeded sixth at nationals, opened the tournament on Thursday against host and No. 3 seed Sherbrooke, and they knocked off the Quebec squad in straight sets.Up next was No. 2-seeded Briercrest College of Caronport, Sask., and the CBC men out-lasted them in five hard-fought sets. Awaiting the Bearcats in Saturday’s final was the UBC-Okanagan Heat, the nation’s top-ranked team. The Kelowna squad had beaten CBC in all three prior meetings this season, most recently in the provincial final on Feb. 26.But the Bearcats engineered a massive upset, snuffing the Heat in three sets (31-29, 25-15, 28-26). “It’s hard to believe,” CBC head coach Rocky Olfert marveled. “We just played our best volleyball at the right time of year. Guys had a lot of confidence in each other and in their skills, and they laid it all out there. It was good timing.”Rookie outside hitter Will Quiring led the Bearcats with 19 kills in the victory, and he earned tournament MVP honours. Right side Matt Kaminski and outside hitter Emmanuel Denguessi were first team all-stars, while libero Justin Wood was a second-teamer. Wood and fellow MEI product Jason Warkentin, along with Yale Secondary grad Chris Schmitke, comprised CBC’s local content. The Bearcats’ triumph marked the first time an Abbotsford team has won a CCAA national crown since the UCFV Cascades men’s basketball squad won a trio of championships in 2000, 2002 and 2004 with Pat Lee at the helm.The previous best national finish for the CBC men’s volleyball team was a bronze medal in 2004, and their win Saturday marked the first time a B.C. team has won a CCAA championship since 1980.Olfert said the title was “for our campus, and our community.””We’ve had so much support from our students, staff and faculty,” Olfert said. “So many people back home were watching (online), and when we got home on Sunday night, there was a reception for us in the gym, kind of like a surprise party. It was pretty cool.”UBC-O is moving up from the college ranks to Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) next season, and to beat a program on that trajectory makes the Bearcats’ title all the more impressive. “We didn’t really feel any pressure in that final match,” Olfert said. “We had nothing to lose, so we just went out and got it.”Our defence was really the difference. Will and Matt had great games, and Emmanuel really carried us with his serving.”