Men’s Volleyball squad faces early season hiccups

“Redemption is on our minds,” states Chris Klassen, summing up the mindset of his teammates in the bittersweet aftermath of a hard fought November 22 game against the UBC-O Heat on Capilano University campus.

Having earned the sixth and final placement in last year's provincial playoffs only to be bumped from the rankings due to the mandatory inclusion of the provincials’ host team, the members of our Capilano Blues men’s volleyball team are hungry for success, with a roster comprised of three veteran players and nine rookies. Still, Coach Marcelo Paz, who cut his teeth in Brazilian leagues, says, “[they] play like veterans.” 

However, this potential has yet to be fully realized by the team. With an early season record of five losses and two wins, they face an ongoing struggle to achieve cohesiveness, accentuated by the low number of returning members. With the old guard having graduated, it seems that the young bucks are straining to earn their place in the provincial pecking order, and overcome the “rookie hump.”

There is still some effort necessary to polish the teamwork and play making of the group, as Mr. Paz stated that “when they’re under pressure, because they’re young, they make mistakes” during play. As far as seasonal goals, coach Paz has only one concern, and that is training his players to remain calm under fire. He is otherwise quite happy with their performance.

This was evident during Sunday’s game against UBC-O, as the Blues gathered momentum during the first two sets, only to falter when faced with a strong offensive resurgence by the Heat. Despite the excellent plays made by the returning players, including Matthew Janzen and Jeordie Ker, the Heat eventually prevailed, winning by a margin of three sets to two.

Klassen, the final member of the triumvirate of returning players, named right wing Janzen and left wing Dan Calverly as the strongest offensive players of the season, stating that the both of them had been “hitting really hard lately.” He further elaborated that “passing is key for us, even through we have nine rookie players … we’re really strong defensively.” 

As bright as the future may seem, the recent departure of star player Wesley Webb has brought further attention to the disparity between past teams and the present one. Speaking of the level of play in years past, Webb stated that “when [he] was in his fourth year of eligibility, [he] was one of the youngest players on the team,” with several members in their late twenties, who “had played at a much higher level.”

Due to “disagreements over the way that things were being done,” conflict “fermented for a little while and then exploded after [the blues] lost to UBC.”  The differences of opinion over team management culminated in an “explosion” of pent up tension, and cost the team a valued player. After all, in the words of Webb, “it’s what the coach deems appropriate that counts.”

Chris Klassen stated that “it would be great” if Wesley were able to return, although it’s unlikely. Coach Paz declined to comment on the causes of Webb’s departure, stating that these matters are “a team issue.”

Nonetheless, if the new players stay calm under pressure and rely on the foundation of the experienced players, the Blues stand a good chance.

//Max MacKay


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