By Kirk Jessome
Following their transition season of joining the RSEQ conference, the Tigers men’s volleyball team was looking to extend their playoff run in the 2019-20 season.
With a young roster, the Tigers had a lot to look forward to in the pre-season, with last year’s RSEQ conference all-stars Graham Schmuland and Jeff Walton and second-year setter Quinton Dowling leading the way. Second-years Andrew Arseneau and Ethan Boyd were looking to make contributions after a solid rookie campaign last year, as was newcomer Michael Donovan, a highly touted recruit.
Unfortunately, Walton and Donovan seasons were over before they could really get started, both being forced to sit out due to injury. This forced a rearranging of the Tigers lineup, forcing young players into starting roles for the first time.
Though the Tigers were in tough battles in nearly every match, they were unable to find a win through the first term, going into the break with an 0-8 record in conference play.
Coming back in the second half, the injury troubles continued for the Tigers, and they struggled to find their footing on the court. At the end of a tough season, the Tigers finished with an 0-16 record to fall short of the playoffs.
Though the season didn’t go the way they had hoped, head coach Dan Ota was still positive about many aspects.
“Our players lost a total of 86 matches due to injury throughout the season,” he says. “With a lot of inexperienced players on the floor, it would have been easy to use that as an excuse not to compete each weekend. We had tight matches against tough competition – we just struggled to get over the hump and pull out some wins.”
With the timing of the injuries, many young players were given a lot more conference experience than they normally would get, and that will only help in the future of the team.
“With Graham remaining on the outside for most of the season, the situation gave young players like Ethan Boyd and Andrew Arseneau an opportunity to be starters and gain valuable experience,” adds Ota. “Those guys took on a lot of pressure in a very difficult situation.”
Looking ahead to next year and the ability for the entire roster to return for another year, Ota is confident in his team’s ability to bounce back.
“After an injury-filled season, everyone is basically back to full health and we are already looking forward to getting back on the court. We have a great recruiting class with players who may be capable of stepping into the starting lineup in their first year. I expect that we will have a squad that is very capable of winning our conference in 2020-21.”