In their season opening weekend, the University of New Brunswick Saint John Seawolves battled against the Holland College Hurricanes in a thrilling five set match.
Last season, UNB Saint John fell short in the ACAA championship final against the St. Thomas University Tommies and are back this season looking to make up for the disappointment.
At this weekend’s match, the Seawolves started Sam Irvine, Luke O’Grady, Chad White, Herbert Compagner, Patrick Kendall, Jacob McLean (libero), and new team member Zane Hamilton.
The Hurricanes gained early momentum and notched four points to start off the first set, taking the confident Seawolves by surprise.
O’Grady ended the streak with a kill to put his team on the scoreboard.
Both teams exchanged points and the set was tied 23-23. A double contact call on Seawolves’ setter Patrick Kendall ended the opening set 25-23 for the Hurricanes.
UNB Saint John found their game in the second set by racing out to a 21-12 lead with massive kills from O’Grady, Hamilton, and White.
At the service line, Irvine demonstrated his finesse with a six-point streak. Holland College tried to close the gap but a missed serve gave the Seawolves the second set, 25-21.
Looking to keep their energy high, the Seawolves stepped onto the court for a third set and fifth year veteran Nick Fraser unleashed a barrage of impressive serves to give the Seawolves an early 8-1 lead.
UNB was easily able to stay ahead of the Hurricanes for the remainder of the set, showing the crowd and their opponents that they are a championship team with a decisive 25-15 finish.
In the fourth set, UNB Saint John began to fall short and found themselves down 14-5.
Kills from their outside hitters and middles helped bring the score back to 23-21 and the Seawolves were determined to end it in four.
Two Seawolves ball-handling errors allowed the Hurricanes to rack up their final points (25-21) and force a fifth set.
With fans on the edge of their seats, both teams were determined to snag a victory for their first regular season game.
Back-to-back kills by Hamilton from Kendall got the ball rolling for the Seawolves but the Hurricanes capitalized on seawolves errors to take back the lead 10-9.
The resilient Seawolves refused to lie down after four sets of hard fought volleyball. O’Grady, Seawolves outside hitter, brought his best offence and landed a kill to finish off the intense fifth set, 15-12.
“We went in thinking if we just showed up we were going to win,” O’Grady stated in a post-game interview. “It shows we have to work to win in this league.”
White, a fifth year Seawolves veteran, says the final set was intense.
“We lost focus a couple times but we got it back,” said White.
“We started off a bit slow and if we want to be able to compete at a higher level, we can’t let that happen. We have to be firing from all cylinders from the start.”
The Seawolves’ five-set win over Holland College is just the beginning for the eager bunch.
With a bad taste in their mouths over last year’s playoff exit, the team is hungry for an ACAA banner.
Their next matchup will take place on November 13 in Saint John where they will meet the St. Thomas Tommies for the first time since the devastating loss in the 2015-2016 ACAA finals. Game time is scheduled for 2PM.