Men’s volleyball team off to scorching start

The Southern Alberta Institute of Technology is home to one of Canada’s fiercest men’s volleyball teams.

The SAIT Trojans have compiled an impressive 10-0 record – losing only two of 32 sets all year.

The Trojans are sitting first in the Alberta college men’s conference standings, and eighth overall in the country in men’s college volleyball standings.

Trojans head coach Andy Hayher chalks up his team’s early success to a simple philosophy: “We have made things very basic. We aren’t really worried about being really good at everything. We just want to be perfect at a few things.”

Players on the team have bought in to Hayher’s philosophy of team before talent, and the team has bought into everything the coaching staff has asked them to do.

SAIT head coach Andy Hayher said this year’s roster is the best men’s team he has had the pleasure of coaching.

Photo by Landon Wesley

“We have been training using different options like yoga and swimming,” Hayher said. “Rather then question us, the players go along with it.”

The Trojans are made up of many veterans and older guys with plenty of volleyball experience, which has been a major contributing factor for the team’s impressive start.

SAIT wing spiker Dan Bremner said the success can be attributed to the depth of the team, “A lot of talk goes out about how many high-caliber players we have on the team.”

Bremner said there was a specific reason why the star players on the team are able to be so dominant.

“Those who may not be looked at as ‘star players’ are constantly pushing the best players on the team in practice,” Bremner said. “I’d say the reason we have been so consistent is because we have that depth and many excellent players for competitive practices.”

Coach Hayher added: “The thing that makes this team special is each player realizes they are one piece to the puzzle. It may be we have six guys on the court competing, but those six guys that are not playing could be playing on any other team in the league as a starter.”

Chemistry

With most sports teams, there are normally cliques of different players, or issues with some participants on the team.

Brandon Hewwing said having a lot of veterans and older guys on the team has made all the difference for the Trojans fast start.

Photo by Landon Wesley

However, on this Trojans squad it is clear that team chemistry is not a problem.

Brandon Hewwing is in his first year playing at SAIT and has a great feeling about his team.

“We mesh really well, this is probably the best team I have played with,” he said.

Teammate Bremner noted: “It’s the camaraderie of the team. I’ve never been on a team with such a good group of guys that all get along so well.”

“It’s just a bunch of bros on our team. We’ve been calling ourselves ‘Brojans’ from the beginning, and that’s the easiest way I can sum up what we are as a team.”

Carrying momentum

With all due respect to teams the Trojans have played, they really have not met a lot of difficult competition to this point.

Sitting with an undefeated record, it seems like this year’s group of Trojans could even compete with teams in the higher ranked Canadian Interuniversity Sports league.

“I think we can definitely compete with university-level teams,” said Bremner. “But I wouldn’t go as far as to say that these teams in our league are below us in any way.”

The Trojans will be playing against university-level opponents in a Mount Royal University volleyball tournament over the winter semester break.

Coach Hayher certainly sees the tournament as a great opportunity for his team: “The MRU tournament will be a good litmus test for our guys. We are looking forward to that challenge and I think it will be good for our guys to play at a higher level.”

The second-half schedule is also going to be a tougher challenge for the Trojans – including a two game matchup against also undefeated ACAC rival Red Deer on Jan. 18 and 19.

Player Bremner noted: “I think it is a huge key to our second semester, getting that privilege to play against all these high level teams in CIS a week before we start second semester, shake off some rust and get up to ideally a higher level and start a very competitive second semester.”

lwesley@cjournal.ca