In the end, the SAIT Trojans men’s volleyball team couldn’t outrun the injury bug.
After struggling with injuries all season, the Men of Troy pushed all the way to provincials at the end of February.
Unfortunately during warm up before their first provincial game against the Augustana Vikings in Camrose, Alta., setter Nathan Goss (1st year, Calgary, Business Administration) was injured and unable to play.
As a result, the Trojans had to play their first quarter final game with no setters on the court, resulting in a loss.
That left them playing for fifth place in the tournament, which capped the volleyball season.
To start off the season, the SAIT Trojan Men’s Volleyball team had 14 healthy players. But coming down the stretch, they had to work with only 11 being able to dress on game days.
The three players lost were Randy Popplestone (1st year, Chestermere, Alta., Bachelor of Science – Construction Project Management, setter), Kristopher Singbeii (1st year, Kimberley, B.C., Professional Cooking, outside hitter), and Thomas Menzies (2nd year, Brisbane, Australia, Business Management, outside hitter and captain).
Their injuries range from sprained ankles, to knee injuries and concussions. One of the three, Menzies, has been a key player all season.
Menzies suffered from injuries all season. He has been playing through and with a torn labrum in his left (hitting) shoulder for half the year.
“Playing with my shoulder was hard,” Menzies said in an interview.
“I had to take a different role on the team and figure it out really quickly without being able to train my arm very much.
“It was hardest just getting the motivation to play through it (the pain). Every time we lost it felt like I’d gone through it for nothing.”
With their captain and one of their season veterans out the rookies had to rally up and prepare to compete in order to qualify for provincials.
After losing both games to Red Deer College on Feb. 13 and 14, the SAIT Trojans were two wins away from securing a provincial spot.
Because of the back to back lose the Trojans felt the pressure going into their games against the second place Medicine Hate Rattlers on Feb. 20-21.
They needed to win both games in order for their fate of a provincial spot to be in their hands.
In a close five set match the Trojans pulled out the win making it a two-way tie for fourth place and the final provincial spot in the South.
“I couldn’t be more proud and pleased with how well our team has adapted to changes,” said head coach Dan Gilbert.
“Change is difficult for most people, but our team seems to have played its best volleyball with last minute changes. Sometimes these new situations allow players to ‘just play’ and forget about other distractions,” Gilbert said.
In order to confirm a qualification to provincials either the Trojans need to defeat Medicine Hat, or the Briercrest Clippers needed to lose to their opponent Red Deer Collage.
Fortunately for the men of Troy, Briercrest lost in four against Red Deer College giving them their provincial spot before they even played that night.
Thankfully the spot was secured prior to the game because the Trojans then suffered a tough loss against the Rattlers.
“There were times where our team felt like it was falling apart and at a disadvantage but we had to look at those injuries as opportunities for other players to step up,” says Spencer Coulter (2st year, Calgary, Business Management, outside hitter) who stepped in to a starting spot.
“Going into provincials without some of the usual players has made some of us step up and play harder knowing that we have something to prove, says Coulter.
“I do have a few small injuries but nothing will stop me from playing my hardest,” says Coulter when explaining how he’s feeling going into the provincial weekend.
“We are all a bit beat up and tired but we are all ready to give it our all at provincials to show that we were meant to make it this far.”