Capilano University Blues men’s volleyball team won the Canadian Collegiate Athletics Association (CCAA) national championships in Fredericton, NB, on Saturday, March 14, and Powell River-born Jacob Hopkins was named one of the all-stars of the game.
“It was a long season, but winning nationals for Capilano for the first time was fantastic,” said Hopkins. “The Blues have lost both times they’ve been to the finals, so it felt great to bring home the gold.”
The Blues qualified for the CCAA nationals by winning the Pacific Western Athletic Association (PACWEST) provincial championship late February in a close match against the Camosun Chargers.
“BC has one of the strongest leagues in the country, so getting out of our division was as much a challenge as nationals,” said Hopkins. “We knew we would do well, but you never feel like winning the championship is the most likely outcome.”
The Blues’ journey to the finals began Thursday, March 12, when they faced Ontario’s Durham Lords in the quarter-finals. The Blues won three consecutive sets to move on to the semi-final game the next day against Alberta’s Red Deer Athletics.
“Our semi-final game was very evenly matched,” said Hopkins. “Red Deer is a powerhouse; they were the team that beat us the two times we’ve been in the national finals. We won the first set, then Red Deer won the next two. We won the fourth, and we beat them 15-13 to win the match and make it into the finals. It was about as tight a game as you can get.”
The Blues faced Ontario’s Humber Hawks in the final. The top-ranked team nationally, the Hawks were 24-0 for the season, winning 72 sets while only losing two. “Humber is a great team, but we knew we matched up with them well,” said Hopkins. “We beat them in three consecutive sets to win the gold.”
Currently in his third year of business administration at Capilano University, Hopkins plans to continue to play volleyball as he finishes his degree. “There’s definitely an adjustment period where you learn to balance school and six days a week of volleyball practice, but once you get into a rhythm, things flow,” he said.
Hopkins was born in Powell River and moved to Vancouver when he was five, but most of his extended family still lives here. “I have spent summers and school breaks in Powell River,” he said. “I’ve always loved being there in the summer, because it has so many things that the city doesn’t, like the BC coastal lifestyle.”
At the start of the season, the Blues held their team retreat at Haywire Bay, which allowed Hopkins to introduce his teammates to Powell River. “Before we went out to the cabins, we played at the Willingdon Beach courts for a couple hours,” he said. “The whole team got to experience a bit of Powell River.”
Hopkins believes Capilano’s national championship will be good for volleyball in the province. “Our win shows that volleyball is doing well in BC, and that we’re competitive with the rest of the country,” he said. “I’m very fortunate to have had so many great opportunities to play.”