by ACAC Sports Writer Curtis J. Phillips
With the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference (ACAC) men's volleyball champion SAIT Trojans out of the medal hunt at the 2017-2018 Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) Men's Volleyball Championships, the pressure was now on ACAC Wildcard Keyano College Huskies.
History will show that during the last 39 years, an ACAC team has medaled at the men's volleyball national showcase every year except 2015, 1988 and 1983.
We can now make that 40 years as the Huskies came back in the bronze medal match Saturday evening to beat the host Camosun Chargers 25-16, 22-25, 11-25, 28-26 and 15-13 at the Pacific Institute for Sport Excellence in Victoria, British Columbia.
"It is something that we can be very proud of," said Huskies coach Keegan Kuhr, of the bronze medal, which is only the third ever CCAA medal for the Fort McMurray-based school, the Huskies capturing silver at the 2015-2016 CCAA Men's Soccer Championships while Lisa Collins earned a bronze in CCAA women's cross country in 2003-2004.
Justin Delorme had 25 kills in victory. Teammate Radoslaw Brzozowski added 10 kills and a service ace.
Both players were named to the All Tournament team with Delorme making First All Star and Brzozowski Second All Star status.
Setter Kelly Woods was named Huskies Player of the Game with 25 assists, three kills and four blocks
"Delorme was an animal and to have 50 kills in one day...with that sort of volume for him to play that way, was something special," said Kuhr of the 4th year 6-foot-6 student/athlete (Business Admin) from Winnipeg, Manitoba.
"Everyone stepped up an had big games and for the guys leaving the program after their fifth year or guys graduating from their programs, they get to leave with a national medal."
It was the second time that the Huskies had served it up against the Chargers, as they has lost to them in their opening game Thursday 21-25, 23-25 and 14-25.
Chargers Jerome Cross would find a weakness in the Huskies blocks by recording 20 kills.
The Chargers had eight service aces in the win.
Huskies Player of the Game Brzozowski had seven kills while Delorme had six kills and three blocks.
"Looking back at the season our original goal was to win a ACAC gold and we didn't. Then our next goal was to win a CCAA gold and we didn't," said Kuhr. " The loss against the Camosun in the quarter final hurt and the guys were disappointed and then we had to go through the process and decided that a CCAA (bronze medal) would be something special. So we focused on that."
In their second game, the Huskies beat St. Thomas Tommie 3-0 by scores of 25-13, 25-18 and 25-17 .
Brzozowski had 11 kills and two service aces against the Atlantic Collegiate Athletic Association representative. Delorme added 10 kills.
Huskies then beat the Cegep Saint-Jean Sur-Richelieu Geants 3-2 in the bronze medal semi-finals Saturday to advance to the bronze medal match later that day
Against the Réseau du sport étudiant du Québec school, Brzozowski exploded for an incredible 20 kills to go along with 10 digs and 6 service aces.
Delorme had a team-high 24 kills for the Huskies along with three blocks.
The Huskies finished with 70 kills and the Huskies' Player of the Match was Alex Andryszewski with a balanced eight kills, three aces, 13 digs and a block.
SAIT Trojans Tyler Latu'ila goes high for a spike (Photo CCAA Tournament)
The Trojans opened the tournament Thursday with an upset loss 23-25, 20-25 and 21-25 to Cegep Saint-Jean Sur-Richelieu Geants.
"It takes a while to be yourself at a national championship," said Trojans head coach, Sean McKay in an interview with Brody Mark. "The guys across the net were, and we weren't — emotionally, mentally — and that reflected in our performance. It was sad to see, because we're a much better team than that.
He continued: "You need to be mentally strong to perform at a national championship, and it's not that we aren't, but today we definitely weren't. They put immense pressure on us in a strategic way that we didn't deal with well.
The ACAC champion Trojans committed an uncharacteristic 14 errors.
2017-2018 ACAC Men's Volleyball Player of the Year and CCAA All Canadian Trent Mounter had a game high 16 kills to go along with two service aces and seven digs. Teammate Spencer Coulter added 11 kills and Nathan Gross had 49 digs.
In the bronze medal quarter final against the PACWEST's VIU Mariners on Saturday, the Trojans fell short in three games with 24-26, 22-25 and 24-26 scores.
"That's a good volleyball team over there," said McKay in an interview. "We would have to play at our best to be able to beat them, and we clearly didn't do that today. From a serve receive perspective, they are a big serving team with four spinners who ripped us up and we couldn't side out."
Latu'ila was named the Player of the Match with 13 kills while Coulter chipped in with 12 kills and six digs.
In their final game the SAIT beat the Tommies 3-1 by scores of 23-25, 25-23, 25-23 and 25-23 to place seventh overall.
Player of the match was Mark Anderson with nine kills, two aces and five digs.
Latu'ila had 12 kills with Riley Grusing adding 10 kills.
For the 11th time, Quebec's Titans de Limoilou were crowned CCAA Men's Volleyball champions beating the Fanshawe Falcons 18-25, 25-22, 25-22 and 25-19.