Cobequid hunting for provincial boys volleyball glory on home floor
TRURO - The Cobequid Cougars are hoping for a different ending this time around.
Cobequid Cougars captain Riley Tanner, left, and teammate Zach Bernard, are hoping to close their high school volleyball days with a provincial title in their home gym this weekend as the Cougars host the NSSAF Division 1 boys championship. Action kicks off Friday and continues throughout Saturday. Matthew Veno - Truro Daily News
The last time the boys volleyball squad hosted the NSSAF Division 1 provincial championship in 2010, it missed out on a bronze medal to the West Kings Wolverines.
The Cougars get the chance to nab a gold medal on their home floor this weekend as they host seven of Nova Scotia's top teams on Friday and Saturday.
"I think me and Zach have been looking forward to this day for at least three years," captain Riley Tanner said of himself and teammate Zach Bernard, the only other senior on the team. "Ever since we started high school knowing that provincials would be held here I always thought ‘I'm going to get to go out in my home gym in my senior year and try to prove we're a solid team.'"
So that's the mission for the Cougars. But can they carry it out?
"All these teams that are here we've gone back and forth with," Bernard, a 17-year-old Hilden resident, said. "So I think it's definitely within our reach."
The Cougars have won their fair share of tournaments this season, including one on their home floor, in what has been a tight provincial scene. But the provincial championship is a different beast which brings in more spectators, including friends and family, which can pose a distraction for the home side especially.
"Time will tell whether we use the fact we're playing in our own gym to our advantage or if we have trouble removing the distractions," coach Harvey MacEachern said. "I've seen that before and it's up to the players and myself to make sure that doesn't happen. It shouldn't be a distraction, it should be an advantage to be in your own gym."
But Tanner, a 17-year-old Earltown resident, said the more the merrier and wants as many fans as possible to pack CEC Gym. Tanner said the Cougars are a team which plays better with support dating back to last season when a boisterous group of supporters cheered the group to a provincial title over the Horton Griffins in Wolfville.
"I think the bigger the crowd the better," he said. "Last year at provincials we had a big crowd supporting us and we performed well there and at our tournament we had the crowd behind us. When you have support behind you you're going to perform better."
Tanner said he remembers how emotional the Horton grads were after losing their final high school match, and is determined not to let that happen to himself or Bernard.
"It's not the way we want to go out," he said.
To make it happen, the Cougars are going to need contributions from their entire roster. Cobequid doesn't have any standout players, but rather, a well-balanced roster with few weaknesses when everyone is on their game.
"We're not the type of team that can dominate based on athleticism or one or two players doing everything," MacEachern said. "We're a team that's going to have to have everybody rowing in the same direction and everybody contributing."
And they'll need the determination to win at all costs. When they've played that way this season, the Cougars have tasted success, but when they haven't the Cougars have faced early exits from events.
"They're very dedicated to being the best they can be and for us to be successful it's just a matter of raising that level a few degrees for each player," MacEachern said. "We're not the favourite, but if we play well I think we have a chance."
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Following is a schedule for the NSSAF Division 1 boys volleyball championship Friday and Saturday at Cobequid Educational Centre:
Pool A - Citadel, Cobequid, West Kings, Park View
Pool B - Ecole Secondaire du Sommet, Horton, Sackville, Halifax West
Citadel vs. Park View, 2 p.m.
Ecole vs. Halifax West, 4:30 p.m.
Citadel vs. West Kings, 6 p.m.
Ecole vs. Sackville, 7:30 p.m.
Cobequid vs. West Kings, 2 p.m.
Horton vs. Sackville, 4:30 p.m.
Cobequid vs. Park View, 6 p.m.
Horton vs. Halifax West, 7:30 p.m.
Citadel vs. Cobequid, 9 a.m.
Ecole vs. Horton, 10:30 a.m.
3rd Pool A vs. 3rd Pool B, noon
1st Pool A vs. 2nd Pool B, 1:30 p.m.
Championship, 3:30 p.m.
West Kings vs. Park View, 9 a.m.
Sackville vs. Halifax West, 10:30 a.m.
4th Pool A vs. 4th Pool B, noon
1st Pool B vs. 2nd Pool A, 1:30 p.m.
Bronze medal match, 3:30 p.m.
Name Gr. Pos.
Jack Aucoin 10 L/RS
Duncan Baillie 10 Middle
Zach Bernard 12 Middle/RS
Arjen Blaauwendraat 12 RS
Ben Chisholm 11 LS
Josh Dorey 11 LS
Sean Ferguson 10 Middle
Brody Morrison 10 LS/L/S
Ben Shortt 10 Middle/RS
Liam Smith 10 RS/S
Naveen Singh 10 Setter
Riley Tanner 12 Middle
Adam Tattrie 10 LS