Men's Volleyball Enters 'Big Smoke' Facing Top Ontario Competition
Coming off a Red River Invitational tournament victory last weekend that saw the Blazers come from behind to defeat the USB Rouges in Saturday's final, Men's Volleyball now embarks on a task of greater preseason signficance when they tackle the top Ontario Colleges Athletic Conference's (OCAA) programs this weekend at the Sting Challenge at Seneca College in Markham.
It was a highly successful Sting Challenge for Men's Volleyball in 2017 that saw the defending MCAC Champions upset their OCAA counterparts, Mohawk Mountaineers in round-robin play to help the Blazers advance to their first Sting Challenge tournament final. The eventual winners, Georgian Grizzlies, would go on to have a spectacular 2017-18 OCAA season and finish the regular season as the #8 ranked team across Canada in the Canadian Collegiate Athletics Assocation.
The 2018 Sting Challenge draw will see the Blazers and Grizzlies meet in a very difficult second round-robin match on Friday evening at 5:00pm Eastern but the tournament may start off with an even more difficult opposition on Friday morning when Men's Volleyball takes the court at Seneca College against the 2018 OCAA Silver Medalists, Humber Hawks at 11:00am.
The powerful Hawks met the eventually OCAA Champions, Franshawe Falcons, in the 2018 OCAA Men's Volleyball Finals. The Falcons would go on to win Silver at the CCAA National Championships after finishing the regular season as the top-ranked team in the CCAA. Humber would end the season ranked 6th in Canada and will be a sizeable opponent for the defending MCAC Champions when they step on the court tomorrow.
Both the Hawks and Blazers have already faced some preseason giants as they enter the Sting Challenge. For the first time in program history, CMU hosted the Manitoba Bisons and Winnipeg Wesmen, both members of USports powerful Canada West Conference, where the MCAC squad was able to steal a set and provide a competitive match. Humber played a series against the Nippising Lakers of the OUA in September, who finished with a 10-8 record in 2017-18, and managed to split matches 1-3 and 3-1 with the USports program.
On the injury front, fouth-year middle Makoy Penner is on the mend and is expected to be available for the Sting Challenge for CMU as are outside hitters Carter Hofer (neck), Joel Neufeldt (illness) and rookie setter TIm Juvonen (ankle). Penner and Juvonen missed matches at the Red River Invitational while Hofer was unavailable on October 3 against the Manitoba Bisons.
Men's Volleyball is pooled with Humber and Georgian for matches on Friday and the Conestoga Condors and Mohawk Mountaineers for round-robin matches scheduled for Saturday. The medal round matches go Saturday afternoon and evening.