HCI volleyball alumnus Jay Eichorst is in his first year with the U of S Huskies men’s volleyball team, and the rookie player and his team have punched their ticket to Nationals in U SPORT volleyball. 

It happened on Friday night when the Huskies were slotted in a must win Bronze medal game against the University of Calgary Dinos. The Huskies rallied after dropping the opening set to the Dinos 26-25. Their win (20-25, 22-25, 19-25) netted them the third and final spot in the championship.

The magic for the Huskies came in the second and fourth sets when the Dogs springboarded to early leads - a 6-1 advantage in set two, and an 8-1 lead in set four. Calgary attempted to mount a comeback, to no avail against the offensive striking force of Saskatchewan. 

The team is bound for the Nationals in Hamilton, along with Eichorst. 

“In playoffs, we hosted UBC and won that series,” he explains. “We got to head to Alberta which didn’t go too well. We lost. Then we were home for the winner take all bronze medal game where we got to take care of business.”

A Nationals berth was the team’s goal at the start of the year, says Eichorst. For his part, Eichorst said he had some nerves given the gravity of the game. Following a missed serve, Eichorst says his team rallied around him and closed in on the mark. It’s that spirit and drive that has bolstered the squad in its success. 

“I think we all just kind of have that underdog mentality this year. Not a lot of us are on national teams, whereas other teams in the conference have multiple Team Canada players and national team members from other countries. We’re a collection of small town volleyballers who played all kinds of sports. That’s what’s kept us together - we’re all small town and gritty with an underdog mentality this season.”

U SPORT Nationals go from March 17-19 at McMaster University in Hamilton.