Blazers See Busy Start to 2023
Although we are only a few days into the second semester of classes, the Blazers were busy over the break, culminating with a big slate of exhibitions this past weekend.
Both women's and men's volleyball squads took to the skies on Thursday and safely reached Toronto where they went their separate ways; the women East along Lake Ontario to Oshawa where they were competing in the Durham College Cup, while the men headed to the Niagara peninsula to meet OCAA competition at the Niagara Knights Invitational.
The Blazer women saw plenty of best-of-three matchups over their two-day tournament from all across Ontario. Day one saw the green and gold take a 0-2 loss to the Redeemer Royals, the only straight sets loss of the tournament for the Blazers, and gradually improved from there, losing 2-1 to Cambrian Golden Shield, then ended the day on a high note with a 2-1 win over the Seneca Sting. Day two saw the stiffest competition of the tournament as the team faced the hosts Durham Lords, the only CCAA-ranked squad of the teams invited, and the Blazers performed admirably taking a set off the hosts, who later went on to win their own tournament. This left the Blazers in the one game playoff to determine 7th and 8th place, and the lone Manitoba team didn't dissappoint, earning their second win of the tournament, a 2-1 win over the Loyalist Lancers to claim a respectable 7th place finish of ten teams.
In the men's tournament the Blazers met the hosts first, giving them a cold welcome back from the holidays by beating them in straight sets 3-0 in the best-of-five match. Next up for the green and gold were the Fanshawe Falcons, a CCAA-ranked team that would eventually go on to win the tournament and proved to be the toughest match of the tournament. The exceptionally tight match saw the Blazers take two extra-point set losses on the way to a 3-1 loss, being outscored by only one point over the duration of the match. Saturday's final pool game helped determine positioning for the single playoff format, which saw the Blazers put forth a fairly lacklustre performance, losing to the Mohawk Mountaineers over four sets. However, the one set win assured the Blazers of a spot in the 3rd place matchup, which would see both teams head straight back to the court for a rematch. Not satisfied with their performance in the morning, the green and gold went to work redeeming themselves, earning themselves a convincing 3-1 win good for 3rd place of six teams below only the two other CCAA-ranked teams at the tournament, Sherbrooke and Fanshawe.
Closer to home, the Blazers basketball teams headed across the border to Belcourt, North Dakota on Friday for matinee matches with the Jacks in their first action of 2023. Despite being ravaged by injuries, the Blazer women showed their championship pedigree, taking home a 20-point victory on the road, showing no rust from the holiday break. The Blazer men met some stiff competition in the Lumberjacks, and took a 20-point loss with them back home to Manitoba where the teams reloaded for another set of exhibitions on Sunday.
The Blazers hosted the Turtle Mountain Community College in their second set of exhibitions for the weekend, and matched up with their NIAC counterparts the Mighty Mikinocks for the second time this year. Their November meeting proved to be a much closer affair for the Blazer women, as the squad was in full control throughout the game this time around, earning a 85-38 win in which veteran guard Shirliz Apiyo dropped 21 points on the visitors, earning her the Folio Player of the Game. The Blazer men struggled to contain the Turtle Mountain offence in the late-afternoon game, though rookie Daniel Cameron was a force on the boards for the Blazers, pulling in 20 rebounds in the contest and earning himself Folio Player of the Game honours. When the dust settled the Blazer men were left with a 99-79 loss, and still in search of their first win of the new year.
The Blazers won't get a break this weekend as all six court teams will be in MCAC action, including home volleyball matches Friday night, followed by home basketball games on Saturday night. The Blazer futsal teams kick off their season as the tournament format schedule will see the teams travel to Brandon for matches with the Brandon Bobcats and Assiniboine Cougars on Saturday. For up-to-date game day reminders, photos, and scores be sure to follow the CMU Blazers on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter!