Clippers open with big win

Katie Brickman
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Fans make YaraCentre feel like home for men’s volleyball team

The sea of yellow put the Briercrest Clippers on their back and it paid off.

YaraCentre was transformed into a home gym for the men’s volleyball team on Thursday evening for their opening match against Douglas College.

“We have the best fans in the country,” said Carter Reimer with the Clippers. ”They are absolutely fantastic. They get behind us 100 per cent. It feels like we are playing at home right now.”

The sixth seeded Clippers battled back to defeat the third seeded Douglas College Royals 3-2 (25-20; 24-26; 22-25; 25-20; 15-10) to win their quarter-final match at the Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) national tournament.

“I thought the crowd was great and I thought our guys handled their nerves very well,” said Nigel Mullan, head coach for Briercrest.

Thousands of fans from the college and high school came out in yellow T-shirts to support the team. They were loud as they smashed yellow thundersticks together and someone continually banged on a drum. They chanted and sang throughout the sets and stormed the floor after the match point in the fifth set as they celebrated with the team.

“That game was so exhausting … I think they gave us the extra engery at the end,” said Reimer of the fans.

The Clippers have been a team that has fought inconsistency issues this season. It happened again on Thursday after a big opening set win.

“All year, our second set has been our Achilles heel and it bit us a little, but to be able to come back is huge,” said Mullan. “We talked a lot about how much adversity we have faced this year. I think that helped us.”

With the Royals needing only one more set win to seal the game, the Clippers battled back in the fourth set and decreased the amount of errors they made on their side of the court.

“Defence is something that we talked about that we had to get better at — picking up more balls, allowing them to make the mistakes, not us,” said Mullan. “In the sets that we dropped, we felt like we were still making those mistakes. In the sets that we won, I thought we managed our errors and were aggressive.”

Although the Royals were ranked third overall, the Clippers don’t feel the need to label this victory as an upset.

“We see this as a growing moment for us. We want to make sure we are taking strides forward. I thought we did that,” said Mullan. “It is a deep tournament. I would say the top six is open. It is going to come down to whoever is going to perform when it counts.”

It will be a quick turnaround for the Clippers, as they will face Mohawk College from Hamilton, Ont. at 8 p.m. on Friday night.

“We will have to watch some video to find out the tendencies of Mohawk and just game plan for them,” said Reimer.


Follow me on Twitter @katiebrickman.

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