Provincials are here for the NAIT Ooks men’s Volleyball team. They’re getting ready for tournament action this weekend when they play for an ACAC championship Feb. 22-24th in Medicine Hat.
NAIT opens the tournament against Briercrest College (16-8), a team that defeated them in their last meeting in September.
“We have a size advantage over Briercrest, but they play at a very fast tempo and if their hitters are connecting with their setter, they can be a very difficult team to stop.” Said Coach Anton ahead of their game with Briercrest.
NAIT is going into the tournament as a second seed team, Briercrest sits at third.
“The key for us will be to apply good, consistent serve pressure to try to get them out of system and to side-out consistently.’’ In order for NAIT to win they will need to avoid giving away easy points through unforced errors especially off serve and find a way to keep Briercrest out of the rhythm that they love to play in.
NAIT is coming into the tournament on a two-game slide dropping both decisions to Grand Prairie Regional College (7-17).
The last two losses don’t affect Coach Anton’s confidence in his team, “Overall, we are feeling good about our chances. We’re healthy and playing well. If we play to our potential, we will be a handful for our opponents.”
Captain and fifth year player, Jordan Teliske, will be one of the key components in the Ooks chances in the tournament. Teliske sits at #14 in the ACAC stats for kills per set, a couple spots below Ooks Cole Burkart who sits at #6.
This is a tournament that NAIT men’s head coach Douglas Anton calls “wide open” while also mentioning “there’s probably at least 4-5 teams that have a strong chance to win it. I would include our team among that group.’’ High expectations from the coach as NAIT chases their first gold in men’s volleyball since 1976-77.
Coming in as the 2nd most scoring team in conference, NAIT hopes to keep their scoring ways rolling as teams tighten up defensively. Knowing the games only get harder from here on out the Ooks look to walk away with a medal for the first time since the 2014-15 season, which saw them take home bronze. Games will be held at the “snake pit” gymnasium at the Medicine Hat campus, admission is $15 and your NAIT Ooks are the opening game. First serve is Feb. 22nd at 1pm. Gold medal game Feb. 24th, 7:30pm.
– Wyatt Ziegler