NORTH BAY, ON: The Humber Hawks men's and women's volleyball teams will open their 2016/17 pre-season this coming weekend in North Bay against the OUA's Nipissing Lakers. The two teams were fierce rivals while the Lakers were members of the OCAA, and since their move to the OUA the two teams have still locked horns in exhibition play on many occasions.
This two game series will start on Friday evening at the Robert J. Surtees Student Athletic Centre on Nipissing's campus. The women will play first at 6:00 pm, with the men to follow at 8:00 pm. On Saturday, it will once again be the women leading off, this time at 4:00 pm. The men will follow immediately after.
From a historic point of view, it was the Hawks and Lakers that dominated OCAA play for an incredible eight year period. Over this span, the two teams met in the final all but one year, with Humber taking six of the seven gold medal games. In the year the two teams did not meet in the championship game, Humber took gold and Nipissing bronze.
"Although our two teams have gone in different directions in conference play, it is still a thrill to play these games", said Hawk women's head coach Chris Wilkins. "It may start as an exhibition game where both coaches want to see all their players, but it will surely become competitive late in the match".
The men have had very similar battles, but two years of significance come to mind quickly. Humber won the 2011/12 OCAA title on Nipissing's court and then went on to win the CCAA national crown. The very next season it was Nipissing who swept OCAA and CCAA titles.
"I kind of miss the trips to the Bay", said Hawk's men's coach Wayne Wilkins. "We always felt that these games were the ones that would have the most meaning and biggest impact on each team moving forward, and now from a developmental point of view, they still do".