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Men’s volleyball team off to good start defending ACAC title Coach encouraged by wins over tough competition

A year after winning the provincial championship, the SAIT Trojans men’s volleyball team got off to a 3-0 start, before dropping their next four games.

Head coach Sean McKay was encouraged by the team coming out strong for a “front-loaded” schedule, against three of the top Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference (ACAC) teams, including a big come-from-behind victory over Briercrest College.

“Briercrest [Oct. 13] was a really good challenge,” said McKay, saying that he expected to “battle it out for a top spot” with Briercrest as the season progresses.

However, it is still early in the season, and the team “still has a lot to figure out” and needs to stay “process-oriented.”

Tyler Latu’Ila serves the ball during the season opening game for Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference on Campus Centre gym at SAIT in Calgary on Thursday, Oct. 4, 2018. Trojans Men’s Volleyball Team defeated Ambrose University Lions Men’s Volleyball Team 3-1 making their first win of the season. (Photo by Patrick Concepcion/The Press)

McKay said that the team’s passing could use work, but  “offensively we’ve still been hitting pretty well.”

“We need to keep that smart, intellectual side of our game.”

“We’re on the right track, but need to stay on track for six more months,” he added.

One of the major challenges defending the title is the fact that the team has 10 new players this year, many of whom have never played ACAC before, said McKay.

“Trying to get them to buy into a system is a big, big job.

“Even my guys coming back, I’ve introduced a couple new system things that some of them aren’t used to, really pushing them hard with long-term goals.”

Comparing last year’s team at this point last year, McKay said they were ahead in some areas and behind in others.

Nathan Goss and Brennen Willis tries to block the ball during the season opening game for Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference on Campus Centre gym at SAIT in Calgary on Thursday, Oct. 4, 2018. Trojans Men’s Volleyball Team defeated Ambrose University Lions Men’s Volleyball Team 3-1 making their first win of the season. (Photo by Patrick Concepcion/The Press)

“We are probably not executing at quite the same level [as last year], but when it comes to talent, when it comes to ability, when it comes to willingness to learn, I think we’re ahead of where we were, and that’s really more indicative of a good finish at the end of the season.”

The team lost four straight – two home-and-aways against Lethbridge College and Red Deer College  – after the 3-0 start. Their next home game is Nov. 16 against Olds College.

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