The Briercrest Clippers took the bronze medal home to Saskatchewan after defeating the VIU Mariners in straight sets at the Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) men’s volleyball national championship tournament.
The Clippers came into nationals as the Alberta College Athletics Conference (ACA) champions which posed a challenge for the Mariners, who came in as one of two wildcard spots after winning the silver medal in the Pacific Western Athletic Association (PACWEST) championship.
The match was a battle in every set with the Clippers coming out on top, 25-22, 27-25, and 25-19.
Briercrest’s right-side hitter and a CCAA All-Canadian, Karym Coleman was proud of the way the team performed.
“We had a couple of lapses, but we never let the game get away from us,” he said. “I liked the way that the team held it together and came together as brothers on the court and just fought for the victory.”
The quest didn’t start the way they wanted, losing the first game against the Fanshawe Falcons. But Clippers head coach Nigel Mullan knew they would need to rely on the lessons of adversity from the regular season to do well in the rest of the tournament.
“This is a group that has shown resolve throughout the season, and when we face adversity we’ve done a pretty good job of responding, and so I would expect no difference in the group here,” he said.
They went on to win the next two games, losing only one set in that span, to earn their spot in the bronze medal final.
Their mettle was tested again when it was announced 20 minutes before the game that one of their starters had to be sidelined because of concussion protocol.
Mullan was once again pleased with their perseverance.
“To see their ability to dig deep and have lots of character to show up and to embrace the adversity, I’m really proud of them,” he said.
It has been a long time since the Clippers were on the national stage.
This tournament is the first time they’ve been back since winning the silver medal in 2014, so walking out with a piece of hardware was a goal.
Coleman said even though it’s a bronze medal, it’s still a win not only for the team but for the school.
“We haven’t been to nationals in about nine years so this is big for our program, and this is big for the group,” he said. “Coming from such a small school of about 580 students, we’ll take it.”