The Lakeland College Rustlers bid for back-to-back national championships came to an abrupt end after a three-game sweep by the Vancouver Island Mariners (25-15, 25-15, 25-17) at the Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association women's volleyball national championship at Grande Prairie Regional College gym on Friday night.
"We were outmatched within the game," Rustlers head coach Austin Dyer said. "They're a big, physical team and they played really well."
Truthfully, the Mariners had the momentum early on, got a few breaks within the game, and didn't lose any of the downhill momentum they had built up in the first set. The ball kept rolling the right way for the Vancouver Island crew and they steamrolled to the win.
And for the Rustlers it was the kind of game where it didn't matter what they did a win wasn't going to be the result of the effort.
"They were in system pretty much the entire game while we were out of system the entire game," Dyer said. "Since we're a small team we have to be in system if we want success against a really good team. They put a lot of pressure on us and a lot of the stuff we were doing well, it wasn't resulting in points for us."
Dyer is a smart coach who usually has an answer to stem the momentum or change the flow of the game in his teams favour. Though he used multiple lineups and made multiple substitutions as early as the second set, he didn't really have an answer for the Mariners.
"I don't think there was anything we (would) change," Dyer said. They're a good team and we were outmatched on Friday."
With the win, the Mariners head to the gold-medal game to face the winner of the Douglas College Royals and Humber Hawks semifinal game.
The Rustlers will head down the unfamililar bronze medal road with a Saturday semifinal game against the Elans Garneau. Game time is set for 10 a.m. If the Rustlers win that matchup they will be in the bronze-medal game at 6 p.m. on Saturday night.
"It doesn't give us a lot of time to prep," Dyer said. "We'll watch some video, check out our opponent and try to bounce back. There's not a lot of time to recover but that's the way the tournament goes."
And Dyer wasn't afraid to share his feeling on the back-door bronze-medal game. The coach wasn't asked for his opinion on the play in game but he wanted to share it nonetheless.
"In my opinion, it's absolutely ridiculous there's a back-door bronze medal game because it doesn't allow coaches to prepare properly and it doesn't allow proper recovery for the athletes," Dyer said. "So, we've got to be ready to go if we want to win a bronze."
Story and photo provided by: Gordon Anderson