It’s been a great start to the year for Dan Ota’s squad.
The Tigers are 8-2 on the season and are first in the AUS. The team has been dominant at times, posting victories against big-name teams and showing why they’ll be a force to be reckoned with this year.
Their pre-season was kicked off with a two-game series against Winnipeg at home on October 13 and 14. The Tigers dropped both games (3-2, 3-1) despite strong play from Bryan Duquette, who had a combined 25 kills.
The team then headed south across the border for a tournament at Penn State. The Tigers lost the first two games to Monterrey Tech and Ohio, but defeated NCAA No. 12 ranked Penn State 3-2 to finish the weekend.
The Tigers used the momentum from the big win to their advantage when they hosted the first AUS-RSEQ interlock event at the Dalplex on October 25. Their first matchup was against the CIS defending champion Laval Rouge et Or. The Tigers shocked their home crowd, defeating the Rouge et Or 3-0. Alex Dempsey and Kristen O’Brien combined for 25 of the Tigers 41 kills on the day and the Tigers showed that they can play with anyone in the CIS.
The Tigers would go on to defeat Montreal and Sherbrooke in convincing fashion, winning 3-1 each time.
Their first taste of AUS competition came in a two-game set in Saint John’s against Memorial. The Tigers led early and often and never let up against the Sea-Hawks, and won both games handily, winning both matches 3-0 . Kristen O’Brien led the way for the Tigers again, registering a combined 19 kills and 16 digs on the weekend.
But, the Tigers have known for a long time that the real test in the AUS comes against the UNB Varsity Reds, their longtime rivals. The two teams faced off for the first time on November 15 and 16. In the first game, the Tigers took the first set 25-18, before dropping the second set. The fierce rivals traded the next two sets, forcing a fifth and final set. Bryan Duquette and Connor Maessen came up with a huge block to finish the game, and the Tigers won 15-10 .
The second game was certainly a wake-up call for the Tigers. The Varsity Reds came out flying and won the first two sets 25-21 and 25-19. In the third set, the Tigers were in an unfamiliar situation, they were on the brink of defeat. Although they battled hard, they couldn’t stop Julio Fernandez and the Varsity Reds, and lost the third set 25-23, snapping their five-game winning streak. This marked the third straight doubleheader that the teams had split.
The next weekend, the Tigers travelled to UNB for the second AUS-RSEQ interlock event of the season. Their first game was a rematch against Laval, who they had beaten a month before at home. They weren’t quite as successful this time around however, and dropped the first two sets and lost 3-1. The Tigers regrouped and won both of their games the next day, with 3-1 victories over Montreal and Sherbrooke.