By Jeff Doner
For the second straight year, the Hawks men’s volleyball team captured provincial gold by defeating the Redeemer Royals 3-0 on Feb 26.
Losing former All-Canadian Terrel Bramwell due to academic suspension left critics to wonder about Humber successes or potential failures this season, however the club was not to be deterred.
This was evident in the championship match.
“It feels fantastic. At the beginning of the semester everybody had doubts. I know other teams were doubting us. And in everyone’s minds we knew it was going to be tough without [Bramwell] because we lost our best player. But it feels good to know we silenced all our critics,” said veteran Hawk Brandon Wong.
The Hawks took control of the first set with some timely blocks by Andre Brown, winning 25-18. A wild second saw the Hawks fight back from a Redeemer lead, to steal the set 25-19. A small but rambunctious Humber crowd energized the Hawks in the third set as both teams battled for points. With the Hawks down 24-21, impressive composure and some excellent serving by Brandon Cullen led the Hawks to come back and defeat the Royals 26-24.
Middle Matt Isaacs led the Hawks with 12 points in the game.
“I can’t even put it into words. To do it like that too and come back in the third set from 24-21,” said Wong. “We like to get down and fight our way back.”
“From the coach’s perspective, it played out almost perfect to our game plan. I’m by no means patting ourselves on the back, but I think some of the obvious points were that we’re an experienced team and they were inexperienced,” said head coach Wayne Wilkins.
Hawks middle Andre Brown gave credit to Humber’s rookies, but it was also solid play and leadership from the squad’s veterans that put Humber over the top.
“Our two captains, Derek [Quinn] and Paul [Kemboi] did a great job, not only making sure that everyone was calm, cool and collected, but also with their role on the court,” said Brown.
“Our guys had been to the show, and they knew what to expect. They knew the pressure that was going to come with it,” said Wilkins.
Wilkins also stressed that the balance between having experienced veterans and talented rookies was essential to winning provincial gold.
“It was a total team effort, support given by every member of the team. And it was just a fantastic win,” said Wilkins.
Wong and Brown were named tournament All-Stars, while Quinn was named MVP of the 2011 OCAA Men’s Volleyball Championships.