One step forward, no looking back for men’s volleyball

After stumbling out of the gate in the new year, Huskies ready for playoff push

If there’s one thing the Huskies men’s volleyball team has shown in 2017, it’s that they’re fully capable of making life difficult for themselves.

The new year got off on the wrong foot with a sloppy, unexpected loss to Fleming. Then there was the loss to a strong Durham team.

In and of itself, falling to a tough Durham squad in their next game wasn’t concerning. It was the way George Brown lost, failing to close out the first two sets before looking listless in the third, which raised a red flag.

Even the victory over Centennial which snapped the Huskies out of their funk took five sets against a 1-10 Colts team. But it’s an old adage in sports that a win’s a win’s a win. In avoiding the season’s first three-game losing streak, there’s a feeling of crisis averted.

With the weight of back-to-back losses now lifted, the team can reset its gaze forward. If nothing else, this rough patch has given them perspective.

“We don’t want to get ahead of ourselves, especially taking that loss against Fleming,” said outside hitter Stephen Duong. “We didn’t anticipate that. Just one game at a time from here on out.”

Better to be humbled when there’s time to learn and respond, as there is now. And while the team’s sense of identity has taken a lump or two, a foundation of belief remains.

“We’re still in the mix of it, we’re not at the top, we’re not at the bottom,” said middle blocker Matthew Krok. “But I feel like we have the potential to be champions this year, and we’re going to keep that mentality throughout.”

Krok is right. If George Brown is maddeningly inconsistent, it’s maddening precisely because this team shows flashes of brilliance. The capacity for greatness is there.

Huskies head coach Garrett May’s expectations seem cognizant of that potential. For May, there’s a balance between performance and keeping the team’s eyes on the prize.

“It’s a pretty fine line, because you need wins and you have to focus on winning,” said May after the loss to Durham. “You don’t want to focus on losing, ‘Oh, if we drop this game, this will happen.’ No, we’re focusing on winning each game we play by playing well.”

Much like his squad, the head coach is full of competitive fire, and it’s clear he believes these Huskies are capable of a deep playoff run. It’s sometimes said that teams are a reflection of their head coach.

If that’s the case with George Brown, May is humbled by it.

“If that holds true at all, I guess it says a lot about me,” May said, taken aback by the question. “These guys are a great group.”

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One step forward, no looking back for men’s volleyball