CCAA men’s volleyball nationals: Previewing the field

The Humber Hawks, Douglas Royals and Mount Royal Cougars figure to be among the top contenders.

With Columbia Bible College gearing up to host the CCAA men’s volleyball national championships next week, Bearcats head coach Rocky Olfert previewed the tournament field for The News. Teams are listed in order of seeding.

1. Humber Hawks (OCAA champion: 17-1 conference record)

The Hawks, who hail from Etobicoke, Ont., have held down the top spot in the CCAA national rankings for most of the season.

Olfert: “(Outside hitter) Terrel Bramwell is phenomenal, from what I hear. In their conference semifinal against Mohawk, he had 46 or 48 kills. He’s had some playing time with the national team, so apparently he’s the real deal.”

2. Douglas Royals (PACWEST champion: 19-5 conference record)

The Royals engineered an upset in the PacWest final, knocking off the No. 2-ranked team in the nation, Vancouver Island University, to earn a trip to nationals.

Olfert: “They’re an experienced team, they’re good, they’re physical, and they have good ball control. They’re going to be really tough to stop.”

3. Mount Royal Cougars (ACAC champion: 14-6 conference record)

The Cougars are making the jump from the college ranks to Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) next season, and they’ll be a medal threat in their last CCAA tourney.

Olfert: “They knocked off Briercrest, last year’s ACAC champion, at Briercrest in the provincial semifinals. They’ve been getting better and better throughout this semester.”

4. Griffons Outaouais (RSEQ champion: 10-8 conference record)

The Gatineau squad won the Quebec title for the first time in their history, knocking off Sherbrooke in the conference final last week.

Olfert: “I don’t know a whole lot about Outaouais. But they beat Sherbrooke in the Quebec final, so that’s impressive.”

5. Red Deer Kings (ACAC finalist: 16-4 conference record)

The Kings are a traditional powerhouse – they won eight straight national titles between 2000 and 2008.

Olfert: “They’re a really good ball-control team, and a really good volleyball program overall.”

6. CBC Bearcats (PACWEST host: 16-8 conference record)

The Bearcats won bronze at PacWest provincials.

Olfert: “Getting excited and energetic for the games isn’t going to be a problem. It’s going to be more about keeping the guys relaxed and focused, and harnessing the energy the right way.

7. Volontaires Sherbrooke (RSEQ finalist: 10-10 conference record)

The Volontaires posted a pedestrian record in league play, but they’ve been terrific since Christmas, when they added Nicholas Hoag. The outside hitter is the son of Canadian men’s national team head coach Glenn Hoag.

Olfert: “Their record is a little bit skewed, because they got Hoag back at Christmas. They play Limoilou, the top Quebec team, in the semifinals, and they won in five sets.”

8. St. Thomas Tommies (ACAA champion: 5-7 conference record)

The Fredricton, N.B. squad finished third in the Atlantic regular season standings, but got hot in the playoffs and knocked off heavily favoured Holland College in the final.

Olfert: “They were down 13-11 in the fifth set in their conference final, and they scored four straight points to win 15-13 and earn a ticket to nationals. They’re a Cinderella story.”

FIVE PLAYERS TO WATCH

Terrel Bramwell, Humber College – The Hawks’ high-flying outside hitter is the most dangerous attacker in the nation. His 5.67 kills per set were tops in the CCAA, more than one kill better than the runner-up.

Daniel Moreau, Sherbrooke – The Volontaires’ standout finished fifth in the nation in kills per set with 4.39.

Jeff Taylor, Douglas College – The PacWest first team all-star finished seventh in the nation in kills (4.37).

Grigor Kartev, Mount Royal – The Cougars’ standout middle from Calais, France stands 7’1″.

Colton deMan, Mount Royal – The all-Canadian outside hitter was ninth in the nation in kills (3.91).

FIVE BEARCATS TO WATCH

Will Quiring, outside hitter – The Bearcats’ top attacker is the defending national MVP. He finished second in the PacWest and fourth in the nation in kills per set at 4.48.

Danny Grant, middle – The towering 6’9″ player led the PacWest and was third in the nation in blocks, averaging 1.18 per set.

Jason Warkentin, setter – The MEI grad is one of the elite college setters in the nation. He was a first team PacWest all-star this season.

Matt Kaminski, right side – The 6’5″ right side is a former PacWest all-star is a terrific blocker who brings a great deal of poise and experience to the Bearcats.

Matt Erickson, outside hitter – The freshman outside hitter from Saskatoon was the Saskatchewan under-18 player of

the year in 2010-11, and he earned PacWest all-rookie honours.

TOURNAMENT SCHEDULE

Wednesday, March 7

11:00a.m. – Press Conference (Columbia Place)

6:30 p.m. – All-Canadian Banquet (Legacy Sports Banquet Hall)

Thursday, March 8

Game 1 – 1 p.m. Quarter-final #1: No. 1 Humber vs. No. 8 STU

Game 2 – 3 p.m. Quarter-final #2: No. 4 Outaouais vs. No. 5 Red Deer

Game 3 – 6 p.m. Quarter-final #3: No. 3 Mount Royal vs. No. 6 CBC Bearcats

Game 4 – 8 p.m. Quarter-final #4: No. 2 Douglas vs. No. 7 Sherbrooke

Friday, March 9

Game 5 – 1 p.m. Consolation #1:  Losers of game 1 & 2

Game 6 – 3 p.m. Consolation #2:  Losers of game 3 & 4

Game 7 – 6 p.m. Semifinal #1: Winner of QF 1 & 2

Game 8 – 8 p.m. Semifinal #2: Winner of QF 3 & 4

Saturday, March 10

Game 9 – 10 a.m. Loser of game 7 vs. winner of game 6

Game 10 – 12 p.m. Loser of game 8 vs. winner of game 5

Game 11 – 2 p.m. Losers of game 5 & 6 (7th/8th place)

Game 12 – 5 p.m. Winners of game 9 & 10 (bronze medal)

Game 13 – 7 p.m. Winners of game 7 & 8 (gold medal)

Championship website: www.ccaamensvolleyball2012.ca