Mariner men's v-ball team will have a blast
In a way, the VIU Mariners are just happy to be at nationals. But now that they're there, they might as well go all out.
Vancouver Island University's men's volleyball team takes to the court Thursday (March 7) in Welland, Ont., for the start of the Canadian Colleges' Athletic Association championships.
It's a noteworthy achievement for the squad, as it isn't every year that the M's men make it this far. Their star player, graduating fifth-year middle Lee Hamilton, hasn't had a chance to take the court at nationals until now.
"It's just another step for the program, building to get some national recognition," said Hamilton. "We've been doing fairly well within the province, we just haven't got on that national stage and been able to show what we've got."
The Mariners have done some scouting on the other teams, but for the most part the opponents will be unknown.
"I think we won't do too bad. We've just got to play how we can play and we can do some damage," Hamilton said.
Adam Tishenko, team captain, said the Mariners are going in mentally focused. They recognize that against unfamiliar opponents, they'll have to concern themselves with what they themselves are doing on their own side of the court.
"It's just going to be us going out there and playing our best ball, focusing on fundamentals and really wanting to win," Tishenko said. "I think that's the really key difference between winning and losing, is wanting it that badly."
Winning a national championship is a lofty goal that a lot of teams set for themselves at the start of the season. The M's are close, but there are a few steps they need to take along the way.
"You can't win nationals without winning this first [match]," Hamilton said. "So this first one's going to be a big match, and then if everything goes to plan in that one, then the second match is going to be the biggest match of the year. Every game is going to be the biggest match."
So only the biggest matches are left, and that's got the Mariners pretty excited.
"It's going to be a blast," Tishenko said. "It's going to be fun going there, seeing a new place and playing with the best teams in the country. It's a whole new experience for me and most of the guys."
Hamilton said it's fun to play at a different venue, against different opponents, at a different level.
"I'm going to be loving every second of it…" he said. "It's a little bit of a challenge and that's part of the fun, is the challenge."
GAME ON … The No. 5-seeded Mariners take on the No. 4-seeded Southern Alberta Institute of Technology Trojans on Thursday … To read about how the M's men reached this stage of the playoffs, please click here.