Only one year after the team was suspended, the St. Thomas University men’s volleyball team has won the Atlantic Colleges Athletic Association championship in front of a home crowd.
STU beat the Holland College Hurricanes three sets to two (15-25, 25-20, 25-20, 16-25, 15-3) Sunday at the Lady Beaverbrook Gym.
The team, made up almost entirely of first-year players with a coach who’s still a student at STU, weren’t the favourites going into the match.
Holland College only lost one game during the regular season and were ranked first going into the weekend’s championships, while STU had a 5-7 record, good enough to be ranked third.
STU kept it close in the first set but fell behind to lose 15-25.
But they rallied back to claim the second and third sets, by scores of 25-20 and 25-20, respectively.
Holland College claimed the fourth set 25-16, forcing a fifth set.
The cheering from the bottom bleachers at the LBR gym reached a breaking point with the score in the final set at 14-13 to STU. The cheering was led by the women’s volleyball team, who lost their championship game earlier in the day to MSVU.
When the team scored the winning point, the crowd spilled onto the court. Josh Drennan was named player of the match for the Tommies.
The team lost its entire season last year after the death of rookie player Andrew Bartlett at a team party. The university suspended the team for violating its hazing policy.
The team had to start from scratch in recruiting players this year, drawing most of the roster from Ecole Sainte Anne, the Fredericton high school head coach Francis Duguay attended only four years ago.
Only one player on the team, Andrew Keddy, was a returning player. He joined the team in second semester after helping coach during the first part of the season.
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