Sports

Revamped men's v-ball team shows character

VIU Mariners rightside Tyler Berthelsen bumps the ball during a practice drill on Tuesday evening at the Vancouver Island University gymnasium. - GREG SAKAKI/The News Bulletin
VIU Mariners rightside Tyler Berthelsen bumps the ball during a practice drill on Tuesday evening at the Vancouver Island University gymnasium.
— image credit: GREG SAKAKI/The News Bulletin

The VIU Mariners might have found a turning point in the season on the very first weekend.

Vancouver Island University’s men’s volleyball team was tested right away in the 2012-13 Pacific Western Athletic Association season in matches Friday and Saturday in Victoria.

After falling to the Camosun Chargers in three straight games on Friday, the M’s men dropped the first game 25-11 on Saturday, about as lopsided as volleyball gets.

Coach Abe Avender challenged his guys to find something in themselves. They did, coming back to win in five sets.

“We found that groove a little bit and it was huge to have a character win two games into the season,” Avender said.

Up-and-down play might be something to be expected from the Mariners early this season as they get to know each other on the court. There are 10 new faces on this year’s team, so it will take some time to jell.

“As a coach it’s fun to find out what works well and what doesn’t work well and find those game plans that this group will benefit from,” Avender said.

The premier addition to the roster might be Diego Bustos, a rightside hitter from Tijuana, Mexico who joins the M’s after playing junior college v-ball in San Diego.

“He’s going to be a moose this year,” said the coach. “He was our best player all weekend.”

The Mariners will be led in the middle again by Lee Hamilton, the 6-foot-7 veteran, who makes for an imposing front with 6-foot-8 Kyle Duperron.

Libero Marco Arnold has impressed immediately as he takes on the starter’s role, and VIU has depth at setter with Adam Tishenko and Dillon Collett. Rookie leftsides Zach Grigg and Niall Cobbe will be contributors right away.

“With this group and the level of skill we have, I think if we can jell and become a team, we could push for even a better season than last year,” said Avender. “It’s exciting. It’s a different group completely and it’s kind of like starting a journey.”

GAME ON … The team travels to the Fraser Valley to take on Columbia Bible College on Friday (Oct. 19) and Saturday. The first home match won't be until Nov. 9 … For a season preview article on VIU's women's volleyball team, please click here.

sports@nanaimobulletin.com

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