Preparing for Nationals: Tommies’ volleyball

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As October comes to a close, students can count on one thing: Tommies’ games down in the Lady Beaverbrook Gymnasium.

The Athletic Collegiate Athletic Association volleyball season is getting started and St. Thomas University men’s and women’s teams are hard at work, preparing for another season.

Men’s team

There is a lot for the men’s team to build on from their 2018-19 campaign. Nine of 14 players are returning from last season’s roster: four sophomores, four juniors and a senior. Last season the Tommies finished with the best regular-season record in the ACAA with a 12-3 record but came up short in a finals rematch with the Holland College Hurricanes.

The past few seasons have been tight races to the top of the ACAA for the Tommies. Two seasons ago, the Tommies made the Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association nationals, the Tommies will return to the national spotlight this season. STU is hosting CCAA volleyball nationals in March at the Grant Harvey Centre, guaranteeing them a spot at the table. Seven other teams from across the nation will venture to Fredericton to battle it out to see who is the best in Canada.

Third year outside-hitter Christian Christie said he’s looking forward to working for a national medal.

“Our team goal is to win our conference and win a national medal,” Christie said.

“We have been working really hard all preseason and the guys are ready to go.”

Tommies’ head coach Henri Mallet and the STU men’s volleyball team will open the season on the road against the University of New Brunswick Seawolves on Nov. 6. Their home opener is set for 6 p.m. on Nov. 16, against the Université Sainte Anne Dragons.

Women’s team

The Tommies women’s vollyball team hope to replicate the success they had down the stretch last season, since they won seven of their last nine games, finishing 11-10. They lost in the quarterfinals to Mount Allison University.

Head coach Don McKay said the team has “a great mix of experience, youth and talent.”

“The experienced players … are all leaders and provide calmness with determination on and off the court.”

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McKay said experience, along with height and athletic ability, are some of the team’s strengths and has high expectations for this group.

“This team really has the potential to be our strongest team since I have been here,” McKay said.

Among their goals for the season are making the playoffs and winning whenever they step on the court.

The STU women’s volleyball team starts the season in Halifax, as they square off against the Mount Saint Vincent University Mystics. The Tommies’ home opener will be against Université Sainte-Anne Dragons Nov. 9 at 1 p.m.