Both men's and women's teams leave ACAC as champions
It was nothing short of a fairytale victory for the Mount Royal University volleyball teams this past weekend, with both men's and women's teams taking home championship gold.
This season marked their last in the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference, or ACAC.
It was their last chance before moving to the Canada West division next season and they didn't disappoint fans — or themselves.
The MRU men's team's final game was played at the Moose Jaw Field House at Briercrest College in Briercrest, Saskatchewan. The Cougars were sitting in third place heading into the playoffs.
After beating both NAIT and Briercrest in previous games in the final tournament, the Cougars were handed their ticket to play in the final game against long-time ACAC rivals Red Deer College.
Shawn Sky, head coach for the Cougars men's team, said he was impressed with his team's efforts in the championship game.
Sky said that although there was a large crowd of around 800 fans in attendance at Briercrest, his team was able to show "maturity" under pressure, overcoming nerves to beat Red Deer.
"We have a long-standing rivalry against Red Deer," Sky said. "So sweeping them in three straight sets in a championship game was very gratifying."
It was the 18th time the men have won the gold in the ACAC, but their championship win is the first in four years.
Colton De Man, a third-year player for the Cougars, racked up 14 kills in the final contest. He said that being part of the championship legacy is a "huge honour."
"What we have been part of in this program is really something special," De Man said.
Going out on top
For head coach Sky, the win was "that much more sweet" given that this is Cougars' last year in the ACAC.
"It was the perfect way to end this chapter in our history," he said. "You can't ask for anything better than that."
Sandra Lamb, coach for the Cougars women's team, felt the same way about her team's championship win over the weekend.
"This league just keeps getting stronger and stronger, and it was really special the way we left it," she said.
“It was the perfect way to end this chapter in our history.”
— Shawn Sky, Cougars men's head coach
The Cougars women's team snatched gold in the final tournament that took place at Medicine Hat College. After winning the championship title last season, Lamb said that the Cougars were able to "maintain composure" throughout the playoffs and were able to get the back-to-back gold they were hoping for.
The Cougars women's team played their final game against the host team, the Medicine Hat Rattlers. The two rivals headed in to the final clash at the top of the division, with the Cougars sitting in first and the Rattlers in second place.
After a shaky loss in the first set, Lamb said that the team remained calm and positive. Their composure allowed them to "settle in" to the game and pull out wins in the final two sets
With the gold hanging around their necks, the two teams look forward to playing in the nationals next week. The men's side will be heading to Columbia Bible College in Abbotsford, British Columbia, while the women are on their way to the Vancouver Island University in Nanaimo, British Columbia.
Nationals for both teams get underway on March 8 and run through to the 10th
- By CAITLIN GAJDOSTIK