With the Manitoba Colleges Athletic Conference volleyball season only weeks away, two men’s teams proved this weekend that they can stand up to some of the best college talent Canada has to offer.
The CMU Challenge Cup, a non-MCAC tournament which took place on campus at Winnipeg’s Canadian Mennonite University, featured two men’s teams who will take the court in MCAC action this year – the Red River College Rebels and the CMU Blazers. It also saw talented teams in the Lakeland Rustlers from the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference and the Lakehead Thunderwolves, a club team from the Thunder Bay school.
When the dust settled on the two day tournament, it was the Red River Rebels who came out on top, winning gold and proving Manitoba’s volleyball programs are ready to stand up against other provinces. Dan Gilbert, head coach of Red River’s men’s volleyball team, acknowledges that many Manitobans are of the mindset that college volleyball is better in other provinces. Indeed, the Lakeland Rustlers team had nine Manitobans on their squad. Red River defeated Lakeland in straight sets in the Challenge Cup final.
“Defeating Lakeland was great for our program and the conference,” said Gilbert. “With dozens of Manitobans currently playing college volleyball elsewhere, this shows that many players are still looking abroad for something that may be available in their own back yard.”
Behind the tournament win were stellar performances by Red River’s second-year middle Dave Glass, who had a stunningly efficient 36 kills and just three errors in four tournament games. In the most important games, a semi-final match against CMU and the final, he had 17 kills and no errors whatsoever.
Blocks were crucial for the Rebels as well, they recorded 23 blocks in the final, 10 at the hands of Graham Peltier, a first-year middle. Peltier had 29 blocks in the tournament.
In the 2011 MCAC Volleyball Final 4, Red River beat CMU in four sets in the men’s final, capping a perfect 14-0 season that saw them lose just four sets.
Red River will open their 2011-12 MCAC campaign right back at the CMU campus on October 26. The women take the court at 6 p.m., the men at 8 p.m.
– John Gaudes
For more information on the CMU Challenge Cup and an in-depth preview of MCAC volleyball this season, tune into VarCity Sports on 92.9 KICK-FM in Winnipeg on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 4:30 p.m. Red River men’s volleyball coach Dan Gilbert will be in the studio to talk about his team’s tournament win on Wednesday. You can also stream the podcast one day later right here at MCACathletics.ca.