Humber women’s volleyball wins eighth straight provincial title

Humber Hawks women’s volleyball team won its eigth consecutive OCAA championship last weekend to advance to Canada-wide competition. (Andy Redding) Humber Hawks women’s volleyball team won its eigth consecutive OCAA championship last weekend to advance to Canada-wide competition. (Andy Redding)

Andy Redding
Sports Reporter

The quest for eight is no longer up for debate.

The Humber women’s volleyball team won the OCAA Championship for the eighth consecutive year, sweeping Durham College 3-0 in the gold medal game at Redeemer University College.

Humber breezed through the championship, like much of the season, only losing two sets along the way.

“It’s pretty special,” said Humber head coach Chris Wilkins. “As we sat there in the last time out it gave us time to reflect. It never gets old winning like this, that’s for sure.”

Being the seven-time defending champions, Humber came into the OCAA Championship as the prohibitive favourite, leaving the opponents happy with a second place finish, said Durham head coach Tony Clarke

“They’ve been here before, they’re well coached,” said Clarke. “I’m happy with what we did. I’m very proud of our girls.”

Led by the recently crowned OCAA women’s volleyball player of the year and All-Canadian Thalia Hanniman, the Hawks finished off an undefeated OCAA season with a gold medal.

“I just can’t stop smiling right now, it’s a pretty unreal feeling,” she said.

Hanniman was a dominant force throughout the gold medal game. She broke a 21-21 tie in the first set with four straight serves for the win. She finished the game with 16 kills and a championship MVP award to add to her resume.

While this was Hanniman’s fourth OCAA title, others on the team were experiencing the sweet taste of gold for the first time.

“I was pretty nervous at first, coming to a team that’s won the OCAA’s the last seven years,” said first year player Brittany Vanderlaan. “As a rookie setter I felt I was under a lot of pressure because the previous setter was really good, but it’s been an unreal experience.”

The Hawks will take little time to celebrate this OCAA gold medal, and then the focus turns to rectifying not having won a medal in the past seven years at nationals.

“We’ll share a few fruits and juices tonight, then we’ll get right back at it,” said coach Wilkins.

The Hawks now set their sights on the National Championship in Longueuil, Quebec, starting March 12.

“We’ve left a little bit on the table the last few years and haven’t been successful,” said Wilkins. “But I think this team has a shot to do it.”

Humber enters nationals as the sixth ranked team in the nation, but feels they’re better than that, Wilkins said.

“I think this is a top three team in the country,” said Wilkins. “If we work as hard as we did tonight, I think we’ll have a good shot (at the gold).”

Compared to her past Humber OCAA Championship winning teams, this one has a special feel to it, said Hanniman.

“We work hard and I’m really excited to go to nationals,” she said.

If Hanniman and the rest of the Hawks play like they did at the OCAA Championship, Humber might have to clear out some more room in its trophy case for a national title.

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