(FREDERICTON, NB) “You have to be playing your best ball.”
Dan McMorran is blunt when asked about this weekend.
“They’re really good tests and you have to be playing well,” says the head coach of the UNB Varsity Reds men’s volleyball team.
UNB hosts an AUS/RSEQ interlock tournament this weekend.
It will feature six teams, from two conferences, playing a total of nine games. Action takes place at the Richard J. Currie Center and the Lady Beaverbrook Gym.
Along with the Varsity Reds, Dalhousie and Memorial will represent Atlantic University Sport.
Laval, Sherbrooke and Universite de Montreal will come from the Quebec conference.
“The interlocks are grueling,” says McMorran. “There’s no other time in our season when we prepare to play three major CIS volleyball matches over two days.”
On top of the grueling schedule, McMorran acknowledges, the Quebec teams pose a test, but one his group is ready for. “We’ve beaten every team this year, with the exception of Laval.”
The Varsity Reds are coming off a difficult weekend. They suffered losses, in Halifax, last Friday and Saturday to Dal. Despite the outcomes, McMorran says his team learned a lot about itself.
The VReds pushed the Tigers to five sets in Saturday’s loss. McMorran says that tested UNB’s depth, something they had been unsure about. “We’ve got a number of guys who’ve never been in a fifth set, in kind of a barn-burner situation, so that was good for them to be in. If we didn’t try things last weekend, then we’re never going to know coming down the stretch.”
In fact, the Varsity Reds are already coming down the stretch. After these interlock games, there are just two weekends remaining in the AUS regular season.
UNB is second in the three team AUS league, with a 4-and-6 record. A couple of wins this weekend could provide a lift for McMorran’s team at just the right time. “We’re coming to the end of our season. We’ve got to figure out ways to win matches, we’ve got to figure out ways to compete all the way through.”
Games begin Friday, at 5:00PM. Montreal takes on Dal, at the Currie Center, while Sherbrooke meets Memorial, at the LB Gym. At 7:00PM, the Varsity Reds meet Laval, at the Currie Center.
On Saturday, at 11:00AM, Laval and Memorial duel at the Currie Center, while Sherbrooke and Dal tangle at the LB Gym. At 1:00PM, UNB faces Montreal, at the Currie Center. At 6:00PM, at the Currie Center, Laval meets Dal. The tournament wraps up with two games, at 8:00PM. At the LB Gym, it’s Montreal and Memorial. At the Currie Center, the host Varsity Reds take on the Sherbrooke Vert et Or.
Turning his focus from the interview back to his preparation, McMorran is, once again, blunt.
“All of our games from here on in are crucial.”