Date Posted: September 26, 2011
Print Edition: September 21, 2011
2010-2011 was not a banner season for the UFV men’s varsity volleyball squad. As alumnus Peter Van Brederode said in his April 2011 interview with The Cascade, it was “a rebuilding year.” Despite the team’s 5-9 losing record, the scrappy line-up was able to secure the sixth and final berth in the BCCAA playoff tournament in Kelowna. The Cascades were subsequently eliminated in a heartbreaking quarterfinal loss to their cross town rivals, the third ranked CBC Bearcats. Yet the rocky season was not without its high points; supplying the powerhouse UBC Okanagan Heat with their only loss of the season and offensive leader Aaron Flanagan’s well-deserved appointment to the 2011 BCCAA second all-star team were certainly notable achievements. The Cascade spoke with head coach Greg Russell about his hopes for the upcoming season:
Where does last season stack up with previous years you’ve been coaching at UFV?
Last year was disappointing in terms of results, but I think we had less talent through the season than we normally do. Some people that we thought might be back weren’t back and we lost people throughout the season as well. We definitely had a lot less flexibility in terms of substitutions and changing things during matches, partly due to injuries and partly due to people not coming back and so on. I think it was not as strong a team as we had in the past. That said, it was very good to get back to provincials and we actually had a shot at beating the [CBC] team that came second in provincials and first in nationals.
You were the only team to beat UBCO during the regular season. Can you tell me about how that game felt?
Well that was the first match of the season and our guys were prepared to come out and play hard and I think UBCO partly didn’t play well, didn’t expect us to put up as much of a fight so we were able to take that match from them. It looked like the start of a very good season, but unfortunately it didn’t work out that way.
What would be your personal highlight of last season?
The first match was good and the last match was good as well. It was against Capilano and we had to win it to make it to provincials. My first year, we didn’t get in because CBC was hosting. We were actually sixth, but the host team bumped us out. Anyway, that match against Capilano was a highly emotional match and the guys came through in the end.
What can the team learn from last year? How can you build on last season?
It’s not so much what the team can learn. We’ve got some open spots to fill; I think we’ve done that. We’ve brought in some additional talent. Most of them are younger so it’s going to take a while to see what they can produce, but I’m excited for the prospect of the new guys coming into the program.
Do you have any specific goals or benchmarks that you would like to reach?
Our goal is always to get to nationals. That’s never easy, but I believe it’s definitely a realistic goal again this season.
Do you have any new players you’re particularly excited about?
We have a lot. Five of the new players came from a club team [the Focus Pounders] that I coached last year that won the provincial under-18 championship. There have been a few other players who have come to the team as well so I think we just have a lot more depth. I’m hoping to keep 16 players training together and develop some of the younger players. There are several red shirts, but that will give them the chance to develop and see where they go in the future.