Bruins volleyball teams qualify for playoffs

Sheridan’s men’s and women’s volleyball teams qualified for the Ontario College Athletic Association (OCAA) championships Saturday with road wins over Canadore and Seneca.

The men’s side dominated the higher-ranked Canadore Panthers 3-0 (25-20, 25-18, 25-17). Meanwhile, the women also earned a 3-0 result (25-14, 28-26, 25-21), narrowly edging the Seneca Sting in the second set and will advance to the championship round for the first time since 2011.

“It was a result, but I don’t know if it was the game we wanted to play,” said Lady Bruins head coach Scott Hunt. “The first set we won fairly easily, and then we started playing like crap in the second and it went to extra points. And then in the third we started playing a bit better.”


Lady Bruins celebrate their OCAA-qualifying victory over Seneca (Ryan Kelly/Sheridan Bruins)

Both qualifying games were a crossover format, where Sheridan, from the Western Conference, played teams from the Western Conference they haven’t faced all season. This means most of the preparation for their matches would be done watching tape and on the practice court. Men’s head coach Dave McAllister knew that crossover games can be tricky, but that his team was prepared for any challenger in the league.

“Any crossover’s not easy,” said McAllister. “But when you do crossover, you want to give yourself the best chance to move on to the final tournament. And then the final tournament, once you’re in, you can give anybody a go. We respect every team a lot, but there’s no team that when we’re playing well that we can beat any team in this league, and vice versa.”

Both squads will now take on Humber Hawks in the quarterfinal round. Historically, Humber and Sheridan are rivals, due in part to proximity and competitiveness, however the women face an especially difficult task, as the Lady Hawks are undefeated this season.

“I think we’re looking forward to the challenge,” said Hunt. “If you want to win an OCAA championship, you’re going to have to beat the best teams eventually. We’re basically going to throw everything we can at them and play to our strengths and see if we can come away with the win.”

Making matters more difficult for the Lady Bruins, is the loss of captain Melissa Cappelletti to season-ending ACL surgery, recently. Hunt says that while losing Cappelletti is a huge loss, he knows his team possesses players that can step up and fill the void.




“I think everyone’s just got to step up collectively as a whole,” said Hunt. “With Melissa being out, that’s obviously a big loss for us, but we can’t feel sorry for ourselves and make excuses. So, other players are going to have to step up and just do a little bit more to fill the void that Melissa carried for us early in the season.”

As a relatively inexperienced playoff team, the men’s squad realizes that they too might be at a disadvantage in the next round. While co-captains Jeremy Fantin and Josh Butler are the only two players on the team with post season experience, they are confident they can keep the rest of the team focused enough to have a shot against Humber.

“We’ve just got to make sure that the guys that have never been to playoffs, which is pretty much our entire team except me and Josh, that we have to make sure that we keep them calm. We don’t want them to get too excited. There’s definitely a bit of a mind game for the players,” said Fantin. “As long as we keep their heads on right, we’ll be good.”

Even though both Bruins team are underdogs heading into next weekend’s games, each team still believes they can advance.

“I think we just want to play well, and everyone wants to win really bad,” said Hunt. “So I think we’re just going to go after it and see what happens, and hopefully we’re playing well that day and we can come away with the win.”

Bruins fourth-year hitter Josh Butler thinks the Double Blue are in good position to make a run deep into the playoffs. While they finished near the middle of the Western Conference with a 11-7 record, he believes with a few breaks, some of those losses would have been different results.

“We have a really good squad,” said Butler. “Our record doesn’t really show how good we are. We’ve had a lot of close games, a lot of upsets, we’ve had a lot of games that we really should have won and I think we’ve channelled that to make ourselves a lot stronger of a team. I think the only thing that’s on our minds right now is getting a championship.”

The women’s first game will take place Feb. 26 at Redeemer, while the men’s quarterfinal starts Feb. 27 at St. Clair College.