The College of the Rockies Avalanche men’s volleyball team has a preseason tournament this weekend in Medicine Hat and head coach Cisco Farrero said they are heading into it — and into the 2018 season — with a team that is stronger and more talented than last year.
“It’s a group that I really enjoy coaching” Farrero said. “We’ve been working really hard. Our veterans last year developed a strong work ethic and it’s really carried over to this season. And our younger players that are incoming are all hard workers. Our talent level and depth have gone way up compared to last year.”
After a long summer, the men began training five or six days a week right after labor day, mixing in team-building activities, weight room sessions and study halls. Farerro said he is excited for the tournament this weekend.
“We’ve done a lot of gameplay, in terms of playing with one another and I think we’re pretty excited to play against somebody else,” he added. “And this weekend I’m sure will have ups and downs, but I’m excited to see how we stack up against some good quality competition.”
The regular season kicks off in Vancouver on October 11, with the men’s team playing four games in four days against Capilano University and Douglas College.
“Those teams are good,” said Farrero. “I expect Capilano to be pretty solid; Douglas will have Reid Marriott back, who’s arguably the best player in our conference. And they should be pretty dynamic.”
Despite recognizing the challenge ahead, Farrero is confident in his team, saying they are significantly better this year.
“I think we’re going to be the most improved team in our conference. But we still have to find a way to get a win or two out of that road trip or even more. It’ll be tough going to Vancouver to do four in a row on the road against two good teams, but I’m excited.”
The team has seven returning athletes from last season, three of which will all be in the same position at the middle blocker spot. They have added eight first years, three locally, one internationally, one from the Okanagan area, one from Manitoba and one from Lethbridge.
“We’re pretty balanced and we’ve been pushing each other really hard,” said Farrero. “It’ll be a combination of young talent and veteran leadership.”
The three local players are from the EKVC club, Caleb Peters and Quinn Grist from Cranbrook and Mark Armstrong from Creston, who Farrero believes to be the best setter in B.C. in his Grade 12 year last year.
“To be able to sign him was a huge addition to our program and he’s extremely talented with a high level I.Q. for volleyball, but he’s also an extremely good athlete and I’m really excited for his career.”
Caleb Peters, Farrero said, has a man’s build at 18 years old, and is “ready to make a big impact at this level.”
Grist has a “heck of a right arm” and has been scoring consistently in practise, and Farrero said that he is curious to see how tall he ends up being, and how his game and career develops.
The first game at home is against UFV on October 19 and 20 and there is a good stretch of home games in the first semester. Farerro said it would be great to have a big crowd in the stands to support them.
“We should be pretty exciting to watch. Definitely more talented we were last year overall and having some local talent I’m looking forward to having some big crowds out there.”