A band of brothers

Men’s volleyball team has long-term connection

If you were to look at the University of Manitoba men’s volleyball team roster, one thing would likely stand out – the local connection.

“I think that’s something that makes U of M a really unique kind of environment to play volleyball especially,” co-captain and left side hitter Adam DeJonckheere said. “I think we have one player from outside of Manitoba. On a 13-man roster, you won’t find that anywhere else.”

DeJonckheere, along with fellow co-captains Kenny Rooney (middle hitter) and Kevin Falconer (left side hitter), is included in that local number. DeJonckheere and Falconer played their high school volleyball at St. Paul’s, while Rooney played for Collège Jeanne-Sauvè.

Along with high school volleyball, the trio, just like the majority of their teammates, played club volleyball, as well as on provincial programs. One of the major connections the team has is from 204 Volleyball – a local club established in 2010, which has qualified for nationals seven times in four years.

“All three of us played at 204 Volleyball Club, and Kenny and I played on the same team two years in a row,” Falconer said.

“Thesevenchemistry that our team had in our 18U season was huge, and it brought us all the way to a national final. A lot of those guys that were on that team, are on the team we’re playing on right now, so it kind of carries forward.”

In total, seven of the 13 players on the roster have played for 204 at some point in their career, which greatly aids in team chemistry. It also helps that no player has used up more than three years of eligibility, and all are around the same age.

“Usually you would have the veterans hold everyone else accountable, and know how things go, but in this case, I think it helps that we know each other so well,” Rooney said.

“We’re not afraid to hold each other accountable, even though we’re the same age and have relatively the same experience.”

The connection the team maintains has been evident on the court this season, where the Bisons are currently ranked in the top 10 in the CIS, and have a strong chance to host a home playoff series.

The ’Zoons, as they are also called, have plenty of energy when they take the court each week. Win or lose, they always give the crowd an entertaining, impressive performance, and while they are well-rounded, the three co-captains have led the way. DeJonckheere, Falconer, and Rooney are all in the top 20 in the conference in at least one category this season.

DeJonckheere is ninth in total kills, with 247; Falconer is 18th in solo blocks, with eight; and Rooney is first in that same category, with 20, but despite their individual stats, the team will always come first.

“On this team, we truly do care about each other,” Rooney said. “Sure there’s little fights here and there, like we’re a bunch of brothers really, but we want to win not only for ourselves, but for each other.”