They may not have savoured a golden moment, but the Durham Lords call it an “amazing” feeling to come away from the Ontario men’s college volleyball championship with silver medals.
The Lords advanced to the Ontario College Athletics Association (OCAA) championship and lost in the gold medal game to the host team, the Mohawk Mountaineers, in three straight sets, 25-20, 25-19, and 25-21.
The tournament was held in Hamilton, Ont. from Feb. 23-25.
To reach the finals, the Lords had to rally back after losing two sets to beat the Redeemer Royals 3-2 (25-21, 25-19, 25-18, 25-15, 15-12) and the Fanshawe Falcons 3-0 (25-16, 25-19, 27-25) in order to reach the gold medal game against Mohawk.
“It is an amazing feeling achieving silver at the OCAA championships,” said Lords middle blocker, Erik Janssen. “The entire team was elated since the victory we earned over Redeemer all the way through to the gold medal match.”
While the Lords lost in the gold medal match 3-0, it wasn’t all for naught. Durham earned a medal for the first time since 2006 when they also lost to Mohawk in the gold medal match.
“To be honest the first time I heard that was in the change room when [head coach] George [Matsusaki] told us right after we had lost the gold medal match,” said setter John Pham. “I didn’t know it had been that long since Durham had won a medal.”
During the season, the Lords went 16-2, which was a slight improvement over their record of 16-4 during the 2015-16 season.
Both of their losses this season came at the hands of the Georgian Grizzlies, who went undefeated.
The Lords will now try to court success in the classroom.
“I think many of us are now directing our efforts towards academics,” said Janssen. “Personally, I will be focusing on school and training to get ready for next season, which will be my last.”
According to Janssen, the team will be losing several key players, including Braydon Rodgers, Mike Harper, Pham and Riley McAdams.
“The depth of our team is one of the reasons we were able to go as far as we did,” said Janssen. “Although we are losing players, many team members are ready to step into those positions.”
Pham believes that the team’s accomplishments this season will lead to “future prospects coming to Durham because they recognize the potential this team has. The team still has a great core of guys to do a repeat and even accomplish better results than what we accomplished this year.”
Essentially, Pham and company still believe that, despite all of the losses to the team’s roster after this season, there is still hope that the team can perform just as well, if not better, next season.