Canadian top 12 and digging it

The men’s volleyball team is ranked 12th nationally and is undefeated so far this season (Kelsey Pye/AQ)
The men’s volleyball team is ranked 12th nationally and is undefeated so far this season (Kelsey Pye/AQ)

The men’s volleyball squad has jumped to 12th in the country after a 3-1 win over UNBSJ Sea Wolves last week.

With a 9-0 record, the Tommies sit on top of the Atlantic Collegiate Athletic Association men’s volleyball division, 12 points ahead of the second-place Holland College Hurricanes.

STU is ranked 12th in the Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association standings, the only ACAA team currently in the top 15.

But with four matches to go before the ACAA championships on Feb. 26 at Mount Allison University, head coach Francis Duguay isn’t taking anything for granted.

“We know we have more to prove before we can claim the ACAA title,” Duguay said. “Many of the sets we’ve won were tight matches that could easily have gone either way.”

Duguay acknowledged that the Sea Wolves and Hurricanes both have strong teams and have fought hard in their meetings with the Tommies this season.

“Universite Sainte-Anne was missing their captain when they played us,” he said.

In their first 25 sets, STU only won four by a margin smaller than three points. They have won 24 sets in total and have dropped only three.

Sean McCullum is in his second season with the Tommies. He says this year’s team has more talent and can compete harder.

“The team this year has a much deeper bench,” McCullum said. “We seem like a more talented bunch, and it’s showing in our record.”

McCullum was humble about the Tommies’ current spot in the national rankings.

“Being ranked 12th in the country doesn’t feel any different than being last in the country,” he said. “It’s not like we get more funding for doing better.”

He said the team’s current focus is on the ACAA championships, and they can’t let their record get to their heads.

“We need to stay focused and take it one game at a time,” McCullum said. “Our team is the definition of work ethic. The boys are always going hard in practices and harder in games.”

Third-year vet Thomas Tremblay, who was a member of the 2012 ACAA Championship team, realizes the importance of the ranking for the team and the school.

“It’s great to be recognized for the hard work we put into the sport,” he said. “It’s great to be undefeated, and there’s only one other team in STU’s history to have done it.”

But Tremblay said the Tommies’ perfect record is irrelevant unless they win an ACAA title.

“That’s our main goal,” he said. “The undefeated streak would be a bonus.”

Tremblay likes the team’s chemistry and believes that adds to how the team is performing this year.

“Everyone meshes well together, and we’re just a group of brothers with the same goal—to win an Atlantic championship,” he said. “We just need to stay focused and keep our eyes on the prize. The other teams are gunning for us, so we just need to keep working hard.”

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