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Belmont alums set sights on PacWest volleyball crowns

Camosun sides are ready for today’s B.C. semifinals
Camosun Chargers middle Alex Sadowski (7) celebrates a kill on the court with his volleyball teammates at the Pacific Institute for Sport Excellence. The men in blue

The Camosun Chargers women’s and men’s volleyball teams enjoy two distinct advantages heading into this weekend’s PacWest provincial championships.

Not only did both teams finish in the top two in league play, earning a bye into tomorrow’s semifinals (Feb. 27), their players get to sleep in their own beds, as Camosun is hosting the event at the Pacific Institute for Sport Excellence (PISE) in Saanich.

Middle blocker Alex Sadowski, one of four Belmont Bulldogs alumni on the men’s side, points out that the last time Camosun hosted provincials, in 2010, the Chargers men came away with the B.C. crown.

And the way his team dominated possible semifinal opponent Vancouver Island University Mariners in the final week of regular season play; winning 3-0 last Saturday at home and 3-0 in Nanaimo Feb. 21; shows the Chargers are hitting their peak at the right time, he says.

“I think it definitely gives us a mental edge, we knew we beat them and we weren’t doing anything special; we were just doing what we normally do,” Sadowski says of the VIU match. “It was nice to kind of send a physical and psychological message to them …”

The Chargers, whose Greater Victoria-trained players also include middle Douglas Waterman and leftsides Mark Severinsen and Taran Silas of Belmont; leftside Cameron Fennema of Pacific Christian, libero Elion Wong of Oak Bay and setter Gabriel Duval of Reynolds; have won matches against every team in the PacWest this season. That includes the nationally No. 1-ranked Douglas College Royals, who are a near shoo-in to be playing in Saturday night’s B.C. final at PISE.

Keeping such a fact in mind will give the Chargers confidence as they battle to secure B.C.’s lone nationals berth, Sadowski says.

“We know we’ve beaten them in the past in league games, so it all comes down to who plays that little bit better,” he says. “Volleyball’s definitely one of those sports where anything can happen and any team can beat another on a given day.”

Chargers men’s coach Charles Parkinson said the results against VIU give a good indication of how far they’ve come as a team this season, and a validation of all the training they’ve done to get here.

Camosun finished the season with an 18-6 match record, 60-27 if you’re counting individual sets won/lost. They come into the provincials ranked No. 8 in Canada, an odd situation considering the Columbia Bible College Bearcats, who finished fourth in the PacWest, moved up to No. 4 in this week’s Canadian College Athletic Association ratings.

“We don’t spend a lot of time looking at that stuff,” Parkinson says of the poll. “At the end of the day, you’ve gotta play well for two matches to get to the Canadians. We’re just going to play our game.”

The Chargers first match is at 3 p.m. Friday against the winner between No. 3 VIU and No. 6 Capilano Blues. The other men’s semifinal happens at 8 p.m. The bronze medal match goes at 3 p.m. Saturday followed by the final starting at 8.

No. 1-ranked women Chargers in high gear

Coming off a split with VIU in their final two matches of the regular season, the Chargers glided into the No. 1 spot for the provincial women’s draw, having lost just three matches all year (21-3) and posting a 68-19 games won/lost mark.

Unlike the men, for whom B.C. holds no wild card spot into the nationals, the top two women’s teams qualify for next month’s Canadian championships in Longueuil, Que. That leaves the Chargers, whose semifinal opponent Friday at 6 p.m. is either the College of the Rockies Avalanche or Fraser Valley Cascades – Camosun went a combined 8-0 in match play against them this season – in darned good shape.

The stellar regular season sees the Chargers ranked No. 2 in Canada behind only the Red Deer College Queens.

Led by Courtenay native Hilary Graham, who tops the team in various attack categories including kills (2.79 per game), aces (0.57) and total offence (3.50 points per game), the Chargers have a balanced attack and killer defence.

Homegrown players on the Chargers include Belmont alumnus Jamie Rodstrom at libero, middle Claire Ash (Stelly’s), outside hitter Megan Beckett (Reynolds) and setter Jasmine Strandlund (Lambrick Park).

The women’s bronze medal match happens at 1 p.m., with the gold medal game set for 5:30 p.m.