Looking to make their most significant OCAA playoff run in more than a decade, the Cambrian Golden Shield men's volleyball team enjoyed almost all positive takeaways after competing at the Eastern Canada Cup 2023 at Cégep Limoilou in Québec City earlier this month.
Almost all positive takeaways.
Considering the tournament host team is ranked 6th in the country and were silver medal winners at nationals last year, simply being invited to this event is worthy of note.
And to their credit, the Shield downed Outaouais, Université St Anne, Spartans from New Brunswick, St Anne’s a second time (QF) and St Jérome before falling 18-25, 22-25, 20-25 to Limoilou in the finals.
Unfortunately, their semi-final win would come at a price as powerful right-side Stephen Brown was felled with an ankle injury, one which kept him out of the final and will likely cost him time at least three to four weeks into the second half of the OCAA schedule.
Still, this is just the latest sign of progress for a Cambrian team that not only welcomed home a solid handful of volleyball first local athletes to their roster, but also the multi-sport key contributor that is Kurtis Brisebois, a 25 year old graduate of Lasalle Secondary who was actually recruited initially to play OCAA basketball down south.
“I feel that I am pretty lucky to pick things up pretty quickly,” he said. “Also, having a coach like Dale Beausoleil makes the transition pretty easy.”
Yet it was one thing to move from basketball to volleyball a couple of years ago, given that he had played both while donning the Lancers jersey a few years back. Brisebois would now take that a step further this year, making the cross-over from right-side to left-side attacker.
“I wouldn’t say that it was a big adjustment, just because I enjoy playing defense and serve receive and all that,” he said. “In high-school, when I was playing middle, Dale didn’t sub me off for a libero, so I got to play defense the whole time. Being able to serve receive and pass to attack when I am front row for left side is something that I enjoy a lot, honestly.”
And while the big hitters at Cambrian and the subtle setting of veteran Jack Daley will always garner the bulk of the attention, Brisebois, for one, was looking in another direction as he recognized one of the unsung heroes of the team.
"Everyone knows that we have some heavy hitters with Sven (Trodel) and Steve (Brown), but in my eyes, I feel that Dylan Terris (libero) is the glue on the court," said Brisebois. "There's his energy - and he holds us all accountable."
"Without Dylan, I don't think we would be where we are. Once we find our rhythm, it's just very hard to stop us."
That rhythm was a little hit and miss last weekend at home as Cambrian opened the second half with a pair of games in Sudbury. The locals swept past the Sheridan Bruins by scores of 25-18, 25-22, 25-13 on Saturday but fell 23-25, 22-25, 25-22, 18-25 to the Humber Hawks the next afternoon.
With a record of 8-3, Cambrian trails only Fanshawe at 10-1, but has Humber, Redeemer and Niagara all hot on their heels at 7-4.
Meanwhile, the Cambrian women also earned a split on the weekend, beating Sheridan 31-29, 28-26, 28-26 but finding themselves no match for Humber (11-25, 16-25, 22-25). At 4-7 on the year, the Golden Shield ladies sit seventh in the West, just back of Redeemer and Mohawk (both at 5-6) and with several key matches still ahead.
Both teams take to the road this coming weekend, facing those last two last two opponents mentioned in Hamilton on Friday and Saturday night.