Snatching victory out of the jaws of defeat seemed to be the theme for the Camosun Chargers at the Canadian Colleges Athletic Association national men’s volleyball championship.
The Chargers, stocked with a number of Greater Victoria high school volleyball products, captured their first-ever national title Saturday in Charlottetown, P.E.I., coming from behind two sets to one to beat the Titans de Limoilou 3-2 in the best-of-five gold medal match.
Chargers’ middle Alex Sadowski, one of four ex-Belmont Bulldogs on the squad, finished off his college career in style, being named to the first all-tournament team after racking up 10 kills, seven digs, four solo blocks and 10 block assists.
“For me and Jeremy (Finn), knowing this is the last game we’ll ever play in the CCAA and knowing we won our last game, we’re going out as national champions … It’s crazy,” he told CCAA media relations.
No. 1-ranked Camosun was down midway through the opening set to the Quebec City team, but rallied to win 25-21. The Titans got back on their horse, won the next two sets 25-22 and 25-17, and were poised to win their 10th gold medal in school history.
But the Chargers put together an 8-4 run late to win the fourth set 25-20, then carried that momentum into the deciding set, rolling over their opponents 15-5 in the clincher.
Chargers head coach Charles Parkinson gave kudos to the Titans for their gutsy performance.
“They play with incredible passion and their defence is pretty remarkable,” he said. “They dug some balls that, in most leagues, guys would be going back to serve and, all of a sudden, it’s coming back over the net.”
As in the PacWest tournament on home court at PISE a couple of weekends ago, Chargers leftside Cam Fennema (Pacific Christian School) was dominant, winning CCAA tournament most valuable player honours and leading the Camosun attack in the final. He finished with 19 kills, 10 digs and four block assists.
Rio de Janeiro import, setter Vitor Macedo, set the table for Camosun with 45 assists, five kills, seven digs and four block assists to earn the Chargers’ player of the match honours. He was also named a second team tournament all-star.
In a high-stakes semifinal against the defending champion Red Deer Kings the night before, the Chargers gained the upper hand late in a back-and-forth match that could easily have gone either way, winning 3-2 (14-25, 25-22, 30-28, 13-25, 15-13).
Sadowski served up an ace in the final set with the score tied 13-13, then delivered another troublesome serve that was drilled across the net but wide by the Kings’ star outside hitter Nic Dubinsky, to send the Chargers to gold medal match.
Fennema was player of the match against Red Deer, totalling 23 kills – including seven in the fifth set – along with 10 digs.
Camosun opened the tournament Thursday with a 3-0 win over host Holland College.
Other Greater Victoria high school alumni on the Chargers include second-year libero Elion Wong (Oak Bay) and rookies Douglas Waterman (middle), Taran Silas (leftside) and Mark Severinsen (leftside) of Belmont, and setter Gabriel Duval of Reynolds.
Women Chargers battle back to take bronze in Quebec
The No. 3-ranked Camosun women’s team was a set loss away from being eliminated in two straight matches at the national tournament in Longueuil, Que.
After dropping their opening match 3-1 to the Grande Prairie Wolves, they rallied to win three straight, including Saturday’s bronze-medal match 3-1 (25-17, 24-26, 25-18, 25-17) over the Humber College Hawks.
Stinging from the loss to the No. 5-ranked Wolves, the Chargers immediate lost the first two sets to Edouard-Montpetit Lynx, 9-25, 26-28. The Camosun women began the road back to respectability by winning a marathon middle set 37-35 then reeled off 25-19, 15-12 set wins to stay in medal contention.
It was rather serendipitous that they had to dispatch B.C. arch-rival and PacWest champion Vancouver Island University Mariners 3-2 (25-23, 25-19, 22-25, 22-25, 15-10) to earn a shot at bronze.
Chargers setter Erika Sheen (Lethbridge) was named to the tournament’s first all-star team, while outside hitter Kathryn Fetting (Lethbridge) earned a second team berth.
Greater Victoria high school products on the Chargers include third-year libero Jamie Rodman (Belmont), second-year middle Jamie Ash (Stelly’s) and first-year outside Megan Beckett (Reynolds) and setter Jasmine Strandlund (Lambrick Park).
Before the tournament, Camosun head coach Chris Dahl was announced as Canadian coach of the year. He led the Chargers to top spot in the PacWest standings, with an 18-2 record, and a silver medal at the PacWest playoffs.