Back on top: Tommies win ACAA title

(Taken by Chuck Linney)

The St. Thomas University men’s volleyball team is back on top of the ACAA after defeating the Holland College Hurricanes in three straight sets at the Athletic Centre in Sackville, New Brunswick. The Tommies took down the Université Sainte-Anne Dragons in their semifinal game, winning 3-1 to clinch their trip to nationals, while the women’s team was defeated in their semi-final matchup against the lower-ranked Mount Allison University Mounties.

The rematch

With the Tommies having their rivals pinned in the third set, they could taste their ninth ACAA title. The set score was 24-19 with rookie outside Adam McDougall getting ready to serve as the sea of yellow “Go Tommies!” shirts in the crowd rose to their feet. The serve was too much for the Hurricanes, as the Tommies’ players rushed the court celebrating and avenging their loss from the previous year. This was the third consecutive season with these two teams in the finals. The Tommies won in 2018, followed by a Hurricanes win in 2019.

Third-year outside and captain Christian Christie said to be back on top again feels great and gives his team momentum heading into nationals.

“We have worked for this since we lost the final to Holland last year and I think that we’re seeing the results with the banner being brought home,” Christie said.

But for his Tommies, there is still work to be done.

The Tommies stormed the court after winning the ACAA championship game. (Photo by Chuck Linney)

“Our goal for this year has been to win a national championship and one of the steps to achieving that goal was to win [the ACAA].”

STU took the first set 25-21 and were fuelled by multiple big blocks from third-year middle Adam Hamilton, getting the Tommies’ fans on their feet. STU would take the second set, 25-21, killing the Hurricanes remaining momentum.

ACAA Rookie of the Year Dallas Melnick led the Tommies in kills with nine while Christie had five. Second-year setter Henry Doucet had 20 assists.

Slaying the dragons

The Tommies men’s team started their tournament against the Dragons in the semifinals, after getting a first-round by for finishing first overall in the league. After an easy first set which saw the Tommies win 25-14, the Dragons had the Tommies against the wall multiple times.

In a long battle in the second set, the two teams went back and forth, having to go past the 25-point mark. STU led the set 20-17 with the Dragons doing all they could to avoid a 2-0 hole, they were able to capitalize on the Tommies’ attacking errors and make their way back into the game, tying the set at 20 and eventually taking the set 26-24, tying the game at one set for each team.

The men’s volleyball team defeated the USA Dragons 3-1 in the semifinals and the Holland College Hurricanes 3-0 in the finals. (Photo by Chuck Linney)

The third set saw a similar scenario, this time with the Tommies being in the hole, as they were down 23-22 before scoring three straight points to gain a 2-1 lead.

Unable to keep up in the fourth set with the Tommies firing on all cylinders, the Dragons made multiple attacking errors, giving STU the last four points of the set.

The Tommies won the set 25-13 and the game 3-1.

Christie led his Tommies with 10 kills.

The Mounties’ surprise

The women’s team headed into the ACAA championship as the second best-ranked team, finishing their season with a 14-4 record. They took on the host, the Mount Allison Mounties, in their semi-final matchup, who finished just behind them in the regular season with a 13-5 record.

The Tommies started off slow, giving up the first three points of the set before starting to find their groove. After trailing 20-17 in the first set, the Tommies were able to get an advantage on the Mounties, scoring five consecutive points and grabbing a 22-20 lead. However, errors killed the Tommies, as Mount Allison answered back with five consecutive points of their own, taking the first set 25-22.

STU answered back in the second, jumping to a quick 6-1 lead. After the Mounties climbed back, the teams were knotted up at 22, as Hannah Millier’s ace started a 3-0 run for her Tommies, as they won the set 25-22, tying up the game at one set each.

The women’s volleyball team were surprised by the underdog Mounties in their semifinal match. They lost 3-1.(Photo by Chuck Linney)

It would be as close as the Tommies would get in the semi-final match, as the Mounties started the third set off the same way STU started the second set. The Mounties had STU on the ropes with a 24-21 lead. STU scored two straight points but had their hopes spiked away after Mount Allison ended the set.

With their season on the line, STU scored four quick points to start off the set. It wouldn’t be enough against the heavy hitting Mounties, as they were able to come back once again, ending off the Tommies season in an upset. The Mounties took the set 25-20 and the game 3-1.

Millier led the Tommies with 10 kills.

Head coach Don McKay said despite the results, he’s proud of the way his team played.

“The coaching staff are very proud of these young ladies and the tremendous year we had.”