MEI revamps quickly with younger team

By Bob Carter

Kaden Gamache crushes a right side ball in a recent match.

Kaden Gamache (#10) crushes a right side ball in a recent home match.

It may seem like coach Jordan Geransky can merely snap his fingers and – ka-zam! – his top-ranked MEI boys volleyball team transforms into a smooth and experienced senior group. That is, a team that succeeds despite having only three returnees from last year’s AA championship squad.

While Geransky, 23, may already have an enviable coaching pedigree, the task of turning the page from last year’s Eagles with their 11 Grade 12s to this year’s less experienced team was no stroke of magic. It was a test, and one he embraced.

“It’s definitely a challenge,” he said. “It gives you a chance to learn an almost completely new group and learn their strengths and weaknesses. It allows me to influence a lot of things early on.”

The three returnees – outside hitter and captain Kaden Gamache, outside/middle Josh Fefchak and libero/outside Jared Reid – bring talent and savvy.

Gamache, a strong left-hander, is the team’s returning top scorer from last year and a Trinity Western signee.

“Josh and Jared are utilizing their flexibility in terms of the roles they can fill,” Geransky said. “Josh is playing both middle and right side for us, depending on the matchup we want to exploit. Similarly, Jared is flipping between left side and libero.”

The trio gets plenty of support from the newcomers, many of whom have played for MEI’s younger teams, some as early as Grade 6. And significantly, all are club players.

“Right from the get-go,” Geransky said, “the young guys were picking things up quickly.”

One of the best newcomers is Colton Loewen (no relation to 2014 standout Jordan Loewen), who has become an outstanding scorer. “A phenomenal athlete,” said Geransky. “Explosive, and a good passer.”

Another “newbie” is Brendan Loewen, one of the team’s setters and Jordan Loewen’s brother. “A great player with a personality guys love to play with,” Geransky said.

MEI won its own invitational early in the season and overcame a strong field to take the Best of the West tourney in Kelowna. It also took second place in the Panther International tournament in Edmonton, beating Norway along the way. The event draws top teams from the western provinces and was won by the Eagles last year.

MEI suffered only one loss (to Kelowna) all of last season despite not being an overly physical team.

This year’s team is different.

“It is one of the more physical and explosive MEI teams we have had,” Geransky said. “We are able to generate a handful of significant runs each set due to strong blocking and defending. Most days at a tournament we will have different leading scorers for each of our different matches.”

As the Eagles move toward the Fraser Valleys and the Big Kahuna BC Championships, they’re still looking to improve. One way is to increase their all-around tempo.

“We’ve been doing a pretty good job of getting scoring opportunities,” Geransky said. “We’d like to speed things up to open things more for the wings and middles. Just speed things up on our side and have a little faster decision-making.”

A good twist for MEI, for sure, but some quick magic their opponents can probably do without.



Author: Dean Weiss

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