- Created on Wednesday, 15 January 2014 18:13
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By JAMES HERBERT
The first half of the 2013-2014 Ontario College Athletic Association’s (OCAA) volleyball season was an incredible one for the Niagara College men’s volleyball team, the Niagara Knights, and so far the second half has been just as successful. With their most recent victory on Jan. 10, they sit with 11 wins and no losses.
The Knights took their first game of 2014 after a hard-fought match with Sheridan College of Brampton, Ont., which ended with a 3-1 victory for the Knights. Their second game against Conestoga College of Kitchener was also taken by the Knights.
These wins kept the Knights’ perfect winning streak alive, one that began with their first game in late October. They played at Boreal College of Sudbury and finished the game with a 3-1 win. The Knights went on to win next eight games before the Christmas break.
“We lost a lot of our roster from last year to graduation, so there are a lot of new faces this year,” says Nathan Groenveld, the Niagara Knight’s head coach.
“That being said, we brought in arguably the best recruiting class we have ever had, with a great group of freshmen and a couple university transfers.”
The Knights are in first place in the OCAA, with a four-point difference between them and the three colleges: Humber College of Toronto, Durham College of Oshawa and Algonquin College of Ottawa, who are all tied for second. In the Canadian Collegiate Athletics Association (CCAA) they are ranked fourth.
With less than 10 remaining games in the season, they have a chance at winning every game of the 2013-2014 season, an impressive feat. But Groenveld says the remaining games won’t be easily won.
“At this point we are looking to battle hard every point and solidify the highest seed we can going into the playoffs,” he says. “Our goals from the start of the year have been success in the OCAA and CCAA championship tournaments at the end of the year. That being said, there are some extremely talented teams in this league and we are going to have to battle and continue to get better every game.”
Last season Niagara College hosted the CCAA championships, where Nipissing University took home the gold, while Niagara did not claim a medal. This season the Knights look on track for a possible championship, but only time will tell.
“As a staff we have been very happy with our performance thus far, banking 22 points on 11 straight wins to start the season in one of the toughest conferences in the country for men’s volleyball is positive for us,” says Groenveld. “However, all it does is give us a chance to be a high seed in the playoffs if we continue to take care of details.
“As a young team it has been a learning experience all year and we have been fortunate to be successful while learning how to compete at this level. We have an extremely mature group who does not panic, great but rare characteristics to see in a young group of athletes.”