The stage has been set for the Atlantic Collegiate Athletic Association’s volleyball playoffs, hosted this year at UNB Saint John. Both the men’s and women’s Seawolves volleyball teams have made it into the playoffs this year, and with their records on the season are poised to be contenders for the top title.
The contest will bring together the top 4 teams on the men’s side, and the top 6 teams on the women’s side to battle for the title.
In addition to the Seawolves, the weekend will see St. Thomas, the University of King’s College, Mount Allison, Université Saint Anne and Holland College fighting for the conference title.
David Munro, Director of Athletics, Recreation & Wellness at UNB Saint John says that the three-day event is one that Saint John doesn’t want to miss.
“The ACAA men’s and women’s volleyball championship weekend is the premier event in the ACAA,” says Munro.
“The top teams are highly competitive this year and will be giving everything they have to take the championship banner back to their own institution.”
The men’s Seawolves volleyball team is coming into playoff weekend having clinched first place in the conference and holding a convincing 9th place standing in national rankings.
Their first matchup will be on Saturday night against the Université Sainte Anne Dragons, who’s record is 0 and 15 on the season.
Devin O’Brien, assistant coach of the men’s team, feels that the team is ready and has been preparing for this moment for quite some time.
“The team is feeling good,” O’Brien says. “We have everyone back and healthy. We have had a great week of practice so far and the guys are focused and determined.”
“After losing in the semi-finals the past two years, our team is not taking any [opponent] lightly. We are going to come out as a unit with a common goal and do everything in our power to accomplish it.”
Patrick Kendall, a second year setter and first in assists for the regular season in the conference, believes the team can outshine the competition, as long as they stick together on the court.
“We need to stay together as a team and keep our energy and confidence high, and playing in our home gym in front of our fans that shouldn’t be a problem.”
“If we do that I don’t think there’s a team that can stick with us come Sunday,” says Kendall.
Saturday night will also feature a match between the Holland College hurricanes and the Saint Thomas University Tommies in what is likely to be one of the closest matches of the weekend. The Tommies and Hurricanes were neck in neck for 2nd and 3rd spot and are sure to battle it out on the court.
On the women’s side, UNB Saint John enters the weekend in a three way tie for 3rd place in the ACAA conference. They will take on the Mount Allison University Mounties in quarterfinal play on Friday and should be able to come away with a win given their strong performance during the regular season against the Mounties winning all three meetings in 4 sets or less.
Indigo Clement, a fourth year left side for the Seawolves is confident in her team, and says that they need to focus mentally in order to take the title.
“Our team has proved in the past that collectively, we have the talent to win but we really need to focus mentally if we want to succeed this weekend,” says Clement.
“We need to come with everything and leave it all on the court to win.”
Clement, who finished 6th overall with 128 kills this year will play alongside her teammates, including Katherine Houser, who tied for 2nd overall in blocking.
The St. Thomas University Tommies and the University of King’s College Blue Devils will also battle on Friday night for a spot in the quarterfinals.
The Mount Saint Vincent University Mystics and the Holland College Hurricanes will await their opponents, decided by the quarterfinal match ups, but will prove to be challenging opponents with current national rankings of 10th and 14th respectively.
The full schedule can be found at the ACAA website.
Tickets are now available for purchase at the UNB Saint John Athletics Department and will also be available at the door on game days. Students with a valid UNB student ID will get you in for free.
Weekend to feature gala to recognize accomplishments of players, coaches
Players and coaches will gather at the Grand Hall on Friday evening for the annual ACAA awards banquet, which will be hosted at the grand hall in uptown Saint John.
The banquet, which happens following the quarterfinal matches on Friday, recognizes the outstanding achievements of some of the athletes including their performance on the court, as well as their academic performance as well.
Awards such as coach of the year, rookie of the year, and all conference players will be announced at the event.
Campus to transform; offer a variety of atmospheres and viewing opportunities
In addition to being in the main gym where the action will go down live for the playoffs, you can also take the game in on the big screens at UNB Saint John’s campus bar.
The bar will be open from 12pm to 7pm on Friday and 12pm to 10pm on Saturday, where a live stream of the game will be shown, and attendees will be able to enjoy the action with a drink and some snacks.
There will also be a pep rally prior to the women’s Seawolves volleyball game on friday at the campus bar that will include face painting and noisemakers and is an opportunity for fans to gear up for the evening’s match.
The stream can also be viewed anywhere you can access an Internet of data connection by visit the ACAA TV site. All of the games will be streamed during their scheduled times of the tournament.