For the first time in recent memory, Douglas College is going to the Canadian Collegiate association national men's volleyball championships.
The Royals, runnerup in the regular season, upset league champion Vancouver Island University Mariners 3-1 in the PacWest men's final at Douglas College on Saturday.
Fouth-year outside hitter Sam Shaw had an MVP night, making 19 kills, two service aces and six digs to lead the Royals to a 2520, 22-25, 25-19, 31-29 win over the Mariners.
In the marathon fourth set, Shaw helped do it all in the see-saw match, scoring the team's first point on a block assist, tipping a winner and then registering one of his three kills in the set to keep the Royals close in the late stages. Shaw also scored the go-ahead kill that put Douglas up 30-29. He then served the winning point that was finished off by Jeff Taylor with a thundering 14th kill of the night.
"I'm overcome with emotion. I want wanted to run around (and celebrate), but I just cried. It was kind of weird," said Taylor after the win. "It was pretty sweet to get that kill at the end of the game, but I didn't think I played that well."
Well or not, the fifthyear Burnaby North grad also served up two aces and three blocked shots in the final.
Douglas jumped all over the Mariners in the opening set, taking an 1812 lead on a Taylor ace before winning the game on a cross-court kill by Kaleb Dawe.
The Royals were leading well into the second set before Vancouver Island rallied from behind on a six-point run to win by three.
In the third set, Shaw nailed seven of the team's 16 kills as Douglas attacked with a game-best 0.565 success percentage to again take the upper hand.
"It's kind of been what we've been all year - lots of heart," said Douglas head coach Brad Hudson. "They're quality kids with lots of leadership and other intrinsic qualities we have over teams.
"When we were down, there wasn't any doubt, especially with the players."
That belief was echoed by the players.
"Our philosophy is we defend home court. Today we had to make that true," said second-year libero Jordan Or of Burnaby.
After last year's loss to Columbia Bible College in the provincial semifinals, Or said it was "revenge time" for the Royals.
"Realistically, we knew nothing could go wrong as long as we got it done," Or added.
Shaw had another name for it - guts.
"It was all guts, that's what we are - all guts," said Shaw. "We couldn't have written it up any better."
Mark Vanderwal had a strong first game, finishing with seven overall kills. Andrew Robson also contributed with nine kills and 13 total attack winners.
Third-year transfer Rex Fenton had 46 set assists and was one of three Royals named to the tournament all-star team. Shaw and Taylor were also named all-stars.
Douglas won its only medal in men's volleyball at the national collegiate level in 1997 when it took the bronze.
The national championships will be hosted at Columbia Bible College in Abbotsford March 6 to 10.