By: Meg O’Connell

After capturing last year’s East Region title, the Algonquin Thunder men’s volleyball team returns to start the new season with their sights set on national gold.

“I think we’re going to win everything,” said Alex Oneid, fifth-year player, first-year event management student and co-captain of the team. “I don’t play for anything less than that.”

Last year the Thunder men’s team had a regular season record of 19-1, winning the Ontario Colleges Athletic Association East Region title. They lost in the semifinals of provincials to the Nipissing Lakers.

Coming into the new school year, the team has only two returning players however, with a new head coach and a roster of athletes with years of experience, taking gold at nationals in March is promising.

“We have a lot of experience coming from different teams to lead us in the technical part of the game,” said Christian Delorme (middle/outside), first-year mechanical engineering technologies student. “I believe with the amount of new players we have and a new coach, [it really is] a sign we can be dominant in the league the next couple of years.”

Delorme is one of many team members new to Algonquin volleyball, though like the majority of the team he has years of experience.

Oneid (outside), a transfer student from Queens University, is in his ninth year playing competitive volleyball and has won the under 21 National Beach Volleyball Championships.

“It’s exciting,” said Oneid. “We come in every day ready to work. I’m still trying to prove myself and we’re trying to prove ourselves to each other. We have strong motivation; we show off for each other, we’re trying to see what each other can do. It’s cool [having so many new players] because we have each other’s backs. I’ve gained 10 new teammates but I’ve also gained 10 new friends.”

Phil Yeldon (outside), fourth-year player and first-year fitness and health promotion student joined the Thunder this year after winning the 18U national championship title in 2009 and playing Cegep Limoilou in Quebec City. Also new to the team is head coach Jay Mooney.

Mooney brings 13 years of coaching experience including the University of Ottawa men’s club team, Ottawa Mavericks Volleyball Club and Ottawa Fusion Volleyball Club back to Algonquin where he graduated from both the business marketing and small business management programs.

“It’s been awesome [playing for Jay],” said Yeldon. “The last time Jay coached me we won nationals in 2009, so it’s a lot of fun playing for him again.”

“Algonquin is my alma mater, so I am very proud of the school and the Thunder name,” said Mooney. “The school has a great history. Having been a part of a growing program as a player in the past and now being a part of continuing its development as a coach is something I am excited and proud to be part of.”

The suspected competition for the Thunder this year is Seneca and Durham in the east, both having a history of being top teams in the conference; and Humber and Nipissing in the West, both top contending teams in the OCAA.

“We are very fortunate to have guys like Alex Oneid, Phil Yeldon and Ian Hortop who compliment our returning middle blocker [and co-captain] Ian McAlpine as the veteran presence on this team,” said Mooney. “We also have a great number of first-year players who come from a strong club system here in Ottawa. So on paper we may look inexperienced, but in reality I think this team will have a very stable and veteran approach to our work ethic.

“To win a national championship requires so many things to go right, some of which you don’t necessarily have control over. The cliché is a team is only as good as their next performance, meaning that games are still played regardless of odds or perceived chances. I won’t go as far as putting a number or rating as to what our chances of winning nationals (or even provincials) are, but I look forward to all the good and bad that I know we will experience as a team in our attempt to make it happen.”