Just two years into the program’s existence, the men’s volleyball team is experiencing some growing pains. Despite some early struggles, the team is showing some promising signs of a successful future to come.
The season got off to a rough start for the Badgers, who started the OUA regular season with a 0-9 record. At times, the team was able to show some flashes of talent. It started against a nationally ranked McMaster team. Brock was able to build off the momentum from their home fans to push the Marauders to an extended first set, ultimately losing 26-24. While the Badgers went on to lose the match 3-0, this first set showed that they had the talent to compete with some of the best teams in Ontario, they just needed to figure out how to make the most of it.
Things got worse before they got better. The Badgers were swept by the Toronto Varsity Blues in their final game of 2017 before a month without games due to exams and the holiday break. With some time off to regroup and try to get the season turned around, it seemed as though the Badgers could not catch a break, as they were welcomed into 2018 with a rematch against McMaster on the road this time. Brock was again able to remain close with the Marauders, but were unable to steal a set away from the top team in the OUA West.
Still in search of their first win of the season, the Badgers returned home but their competition did not get any easier. Brock struggled against Western and Windsor, losing 3-0 in both games and never threatened to win a set. But with an 0-9 record and the season starting to fall off the rails, momentum began to shift towards the end of January. The Badgers were able to beat the Gryphons in five sets for their first win of the season. It was the first win for the team since the preseason but getting back in the win column proved to be the break that this team needed.
Following their first win, the Badgers went on to upset Ryerson, who ended the year as the top team in the OUA East. The Badgers followed that up with a win over a winless Trent team, Queen’s and Royal Military College of Canada. A season that had once looked lost had been completely turned around and all of a sudden the playoffs were within reach. It was a longshot, but they had a chance. Unfortunately, the momentum slipped away just as quickly as it built up, and the team went on to lose their final three games of the year.
Even with their nine-game losing streak to start the season, Brock still improved upon their record from the previous year, recording two more wins than in the past. If nothing else, the winning streak that the Badgers went on towards the end of the season goes to show that the team is talented and some young players showed promising signs of what is to come in a couple of years. Rookie Logan House finished the season in tenth place among all OUA players with 182 kills. Another rookie, Peter Schnabel, finished the year tied in 22nd place with 34 total blocks and 35th in kills with 103.
While a couple of young players give Badgers fans hope for the future, they must continue to put together strong recruiting classes in order to build on what they have started. The team is losing two players moving forward, as Tim Spisar and Reg McLean are both finishing their senior year.
Starting a program from nothing can be a long process, with results not guaranteed to come for a long time. Trent, which began their program at the same time as Brock, is still in search of their first OUA regular season win after two full seasons after finishing 0-18 both years. It takes time to build a winning program like the one at McMaster. While the season did not start the way anybody would have wanted, Brock has still shown signs of improvement and has made progress towards being considered another OUA team rather than just a new team. Brock fans should sit back, relax, and trust the process.