Libero Jeremy Davies passes the ball during the Bobcats’ opening match. (YAN DOUBLET/LAVAL UNIVERSITY)
QUEBEC CITY — When Jeremy Davies committed to the Brandon University Bobcats men’s volleyball team, he expected to sit on the bench for his first year and battle to be the team’s starting libero next season.
Things didn’t go according to that plan, but the 19-year-old isn’t complaining. Davies joined Brandon’s starting lineup during the final weekend of the Canada West regular season when the Bobcats moved fifth-year libero Scott Neufeld to left side to fill in for an injured Sam Tuivai, and Davies has started all but one match since.
The only match he didn’t start was Brandon’s first playoff contest against the Huskies, but he came in for the final two sets. It’s been a huge change for Davies to go from the high school ranks to starting in the CIS — and now playing in the national championship here in Quebec City — but he’s loving every minute of it.
"So exciting," said Davies, who averaged 3.14 digs per set in those six matches. "I love this atmosphere and this great group of guys. It’s a good time."
"These guys make it so easy," he continued. "Just appreciate all those guys."
While Davies admitted it was a big move to join the Bobcats, BU head coach Grant Wilson had a lot of faith in him right off the bat.
Davies impressed the Bobcats coaching staff during the team’s training camp with his knowledge of the game, vision on the court and relentless pursuit of the ball. The physical education student quickly climbed the depth chart and went from being a little-used bench player during the first semester to being the first substitute in the second semester — after American imports Randy Preval and Rob McLean left the team — although he primarily played in the back row.
The 5-foot-9 rookie’s move into the starting lineup hasn’t created a weakness on the Bobcats, either. Wilson believes having both Davies and Neufeld on the court is a big reason for Brandon’s playoff surge that carried the Bobcats to their first Canada West title and all the way to this weekend’s CIS championship.
"Our ball control has improved so much having both of them on the floor," Wilson said. "It’s good for our passing and it’s been tough for opposing teams to put the ball away when you dig the ball real well. Hopefully they can continue that this weekend."
Davies admitted he’s battling a few nerves at the national championship. However, he plans to soak in the experience, enjoy it, and hopefully help lead Brandon to its first national volleyball title.
If that doesn’t happen, it appears the Bobcats will have a libero to try to build a championship team around for the next four years.
"That’s what they keep telling me, so I’ll have to keep going with it," Davies said.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition March 2, 2013