Over the span of five gripping sets of volleyball, the Briercrest College Clippers men’s volleyball team saw two dreams dashed.
The Clippers saw their hopes of repeating as ACAC champions evaporate after losing the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference semifinal Friday. That loss will also prevent them from earning a trip to the CCAA nationals in Abbotsford, B.C.
“It’s tough. You know now that (Saturday) is the last day of the season,” said Clippers fourth-year right side Joel Dyck. “It’s really tough, but we have to move forward and try to win a bronze medal.”
The Mount Royal University Cougars beat the Clippers 3-2 (20-25, 25-14, 20-25, 25-13, 15-12) to advance to today’s ACAC final.
In Friday’s other semifinal the top-seeded Red Deer College Kings beat the Keyano College Huskies 3-0 (25-10, 26-24, 25-11).
Mount Royal and Red Deer will meet Saturday (3:30 p.m., Moose Jaw Field House) in the championship final. The Clippers will play Keyano at 1 p.m. in the bronze medal game.
“That’s a good team and they’re an older team. My hat is off to them because they’ve been such a good team for so long,” said Mount Royal coach Shawn Sky of the Clippers. The Cougars will move up to the CIS ranks next year and were ecstatic to qualify for nationals after failing to make the playoffs a year ago in an injury-ravaged campaign.
“The veterans on this team had one of their toughest years ever last year. To see them do this is so great.”
Facing elimination, Mount Royal cruised to a 25-13 win in the fourth set.
The Cougars kept that momentum going and grabbed a 7-1 lead to start the fifth set, but the Clippers weren’t going to go quietly. They clawed their way back to within a point at 12-11. It was bedlam as the more than 700 spectators believed the comeback was imminent in the Field House.
The Cougars stayed composed and their player of the game, Dan Durham, smashed the last of his 23 kills to end the contest.