Win or lose, Camosun Chargers libero Elion Wong will play his last game of competitive volleyball on his home court this week.
Here’s hoping it’s a winner.
The reigning Pacwest champion Camosun Chargers host the Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association men’s national volleyball championship starting Thursday at the Pacific Institute for Sports Excellence, March 8 to 10. Camosun plays Game 1 against the Keyano Huskies at 8 p.m. on Thursday.
If they win, the Chargers advance to the semifinals Friday night at 8 p.m. Lose, and they play Friday at 3 p.m. The third place game is 6 p.m. Saturday followed by the championship final at 8 p.m.
“There’s a factor of being at home with the fans, there will be a bit of nerves, but after a couple points we’ll be right into it, we are older and are used to the pressure,” Wong said.
Despite a 13-11 regular season record, compared 20-4 of V.I. University, the Chargers went into provincials as a favourite having won seven of eight matches. Charger Eduardo Bida was named the provincial MVP. The Brazilian import had 18 kills in the gold medal final, nearly half his total of 37 throughout all three games.
“We know as long as we stick to the plan we will peak for playoffs,” Wong said.
It’s been a storied career full of provincial and national titles for the 22-year-old Wong, who has been to the CCAA national championships as Pacwest champs in all four years as a Charger. In three tries the Chargers have only won the nationals once. That was Wong’s first year with the team in 2015.
“After my second year I had an offer to join UBC but opted to stay at Camosun,” Wong said. “I look back on it and I think it was the right decision to make.”
As a Gordon Head kid, Wong was first molded into a winning player in coach Rick Wutzke’s Lansdowne volleyball factory. Under Wutzke’s guidance, Wong and company smashed apart the Grade 8 city competition in 2009 and went on to win that year’s national club title. Wearing Oak Bay Barbers jerseys, the same core won back-to-back B.C. senior high school championships in 2011 and 2012.
As a sought after high school graduate, Wong elected to join the Capilano Blues. Wong was keen to move out from home and the North Vancouver school was still celebrating its 2013 Pacwest provincial championship. But by the end of his year there, Wong was ready to return.
“Actually I contacted [coach Charles Parkinson] pretty late [ahead of] second year and there were no roster spots,” Wong said. “He told me, ‘Just come and practice with the team and things will work out,’ and they did.”
Two players ended up leaving the team early in the season and Wong quickly worked his way into the starting rotation.
School-wise, Wong has another year to go in the exercise and wellness program to earn a Bachelor of Sport and Fitness Leadership. Wong says he’s considered chasing a pro tryout overseas but is likely to stick around and start his career.
Visit ccaa.ca for updates on the tournament.