Underdog Blazers go into CCAA Nationals looking to bust the bracket
Men's volleyball team to face top-seeded Humber Hawks in its first-round matchup
For the first time in school history the CMU Blazers will send a team to represent Manitoba and the MCAC at the Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) Nationals, when the men's volleyball squad flies to Quebec City on Wednesday. Not only is this year's men's volleyball team the first CMU team to reach the championship tournament, but also the very first representative of the MCAC in men's volleyball after their historic MCAC Championship win earlier in March.
The field is now set for the tournament, with the eight-team tournament comprising of the provincial champions from each of the member conferences: Camosun Chargers from PacWest (British Columbia), Red Deer Kings of the ACAC (Alberta and Saskatchewan), your CMU Blazers from the MCAC (Manitoba), Humber Hawks of the OCAA (Ontario), Saint-Jean-Sur-Richelieu Geants from RSEQ (Quebec), and the St Thomas Tommies of the ACAA (Atlantic provinces), along with the host Cegep Limoilou from Quebec and one wild card spot, which this year is alotted to the OCAA's Redeemer Royals.
The two-pool format, sees each team seeded prior to the start of the tournament, based somewhat on strength on conference as well as national ranking going into the tournament. As representatives of the CCAA newcomer conference MCAC, the CMU team has its work cut out for it to break seed and make a splash at the tournament. Despite winning its conference, the team has been seeded last in its pool, and will face the top-ranked team Humber Hawks in its opening match on Friday night, and then will move on to play either the Alberta champs Red Deer who have the second seed in the pool, or the third-seeded hosts Limoilou in Saturday's match. The last time the CCAA national rankings were released, pool B comprised of the #1 Humber Hawks, #6 Red Deer Kings, #9 Limoilou Titans, and the #11 CMU Blazers.
There were a number of upsets in provincial championships across the country in the leadup to the event, and the Blazers are hoping some of that March Madness magic can swing in their favour when the team hits the court. The Camosun Chargers have been chosen as top seed in pool A, but managed a huge upset in their provincial championship to make it to the tournament, defeating the VIU Mariners, who had been ranked as the top team in the country for most of the season. Quebec champions Saint-Jean Geants also pulled off an upset, defeating the number three ranked Sherbrooke Voluntaires in their provincial tournament, and despite not being ranked in the CCAA top 15, have been given the second seed in pool A. The St Thomas Tommies, who hosted the last tournament last time it was held in March of 2020 claim the third seed in pool A, while the wildcard Redeemer Royals, who were defeated by the Humber Hawks in the OCAA finals last week take the last spot in pool A. The last time the CCAA National Rankings were released, pool A comprised of the #4 Camosun Chargers, unranked Saint-Jean Geants, #7 St Thomas Tommies, and #8 Redeemer Royals.
The only undefeated team in each pool will faceoff in the championship final on Sunday, while the winless team in each pool will have their tournament end with no crossover game to determine seventh and eighth spots at this year's championships. The teams in the second and third spots in their pools after two days will crossover in a bronze semi-final match on Sunday morning to determine who gets to play for third place, while the fifth and sixth spots also go undetermined.
With no out-of-province play over the last two years to know how they matchup against some of the teams at the championships, it will definitely be an interesting tournament for the Blazers, as they will look to write a Cinderella story and show Canada what volleyball in Manitoba is like. A win for CMU in either of their games on Friday or Saturday will guarantee them a third game and to finish higher than their seeding going into the tournament, and would be a big win on its own. The team certainly embraces the challenge of going up against massive and hugely successful programs and doesn't take the opportunity to represent Manitoba lightly.
The Blazers' opening match is scheduled for 8:00PM ET (7:00PM CDT) on Friday as they face the 2020 finalists Humber Hawks. Further schedule along with webcast and photos can all be accessed through the CCAA website under the 2022 Men's Volleyball Championships page, or keep up-to-date by following the Blazers on social media to follow along on their quest.