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Back to back bronze leaves Cambrian lads longing for more
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A year ago this time, euphoria reigned on the campus of Cambrian College, the Golden Shield men's volleyball team celebrating their first medal at the OCAA Championships in just under thirty years with a bronze medal performance in London.

Back at the same setting this past weekend, coach Dale Beausoleil and company duplicated that feat, falling to the hometown Fanshawe Falcons in semi-final play but recovering to beat the Centennial Colts with hardware still on the line the next day.

The fact, however, that the 2024 result was greeted with at least as much disappointment as elation speaks volumes as to just how far the program has come these past two years.

Sure, some of that comes part and parcel of the fact that qualifying for the provincial final would have been enough to advance the Shield to nationals in British Columbia. Beyond that, however, comes the reality that expectations continue to increase.

After posting a regular season record of 12-6 in a season that featured more game to game turnover in the Cambrian starting lineup than would normally be the case in most years, the locals proceeded to dispose of both the Seneca Sting (25-14, 25-23, 25-11) and the Georgian Grizzlies (20-25, 30-28, 25-21, 25-20) to book a berth in the Final Four.

There, Fanshawe awaited them.

"Going in, we were definitely confident that we could win," noted rookie Kyle Perreault, a graduate of the Horizon Aigles high-school program. "We had already beat them once this year."

And while a 16-25, 25-22, 18-25, 23-25 setback was not the result they were hoping for, there was definitely elements of "glass half full / glass half empty" emotions at play.

"I though we performed pretty well," said Perreault, all while acknowledging that victory was also not at all out of reach. "Honestly, they had home crowd advantage which played a big part."

"It got pretty loud, which can get to you."

The Falcons, who would go on to drop a five set classic in the gold medal game, were led by Jayden Crowther (13 kills) and the tandem of Tanner Paterson and Daniel Ridings, with 12 kills apiece.

Showing the way for Cambrian were Kurtis Brisebois, Sven Trodel and Nathan Scully, all with nine kills each.

Facing the only remaining team from the East Division in the bronze medal affair, the Golden Shield vanquished their second top-two seed in that bracket with a 17-25, 26-24, 25-22, 25-23 triumph.

"Dale reminded us that it was better to end the year off with a win than a loss," suggested Perreault, who continued to show signs of the potential that lies ahead, his ten kills in the match second only to Sven Trodel on the Cambrian side.

Brisebois (9), Jason Diotte (8) and Scully (7) were also prominent in the attack as setter Dylan Terris spread the ball all over the court. For the 18 year old first year Nursing student, the indications are all there as to just how much he belongs.

"As a rookie, you shouldn't expect to play much," said Perreault. "Our team this year was pretty loaded on the left side. But early in the season, Sven was hurt so I played a whole weekend at a pre-season tournament."

"I think that's when I started to fit in with the guys, started to understand the level I had to play at in the OCAA."

And that bodes well for the future of Cambrian men's volleyball.

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