The 2017-18 OCAA men's volleyball regular season has reached its unofficial halfway mark.
Here's a look at what transpired so far, and what to watch for in the new year.
STATE OF THE CHAMPIONS
The Mohawk Mountaineers are going through a rebuilding process, having lost a number of veterans from last season.
At 3-6, Mohawk is currently outside a playoff spot, in eighth place in the West Division standings. The Mountaineers currently trail Conestoga (4-6) for the final post-season berth, with a match in hand.
Without a turnaround, Mohawk's string of seven straight seasons winning an OCAA medal is in jeopardy.
Two OCAA clubs ran the table during the first half of their respective regular seasons.
Reigning bronze medalist Fanshawe is 11-0, having played more matches than any other OCAA team at this point. The Falcons have lost just four sets in the first half, with none of their matches going more than four sets.
The Georgian Grizzlies are undefeated in the East Division, going 9-0. Similar to the Falcons, the Grizzlies have not gone to five sets all season, having dropped just three sets.
Those clamouring for a showdown between undefeated teams will have to wait as there is no interdivision play during the regular season. There is the potential of two undefeated teams squaring off in the OCAA gold medal match this February.
STATE OF THE HOST
The Georgian Grizzlies are the only team that is guaranteed a berth at the 2018 OCAA Men's Volleyball Championship presented by belairdirect as tournament host.
The Grizzlies have never won an OCAA medal in men's volleyball, despite making it to the bronze medal match in 2017.
Georgian has won 27 consecutive regular season matches dating back to last season (when the Grizzlies went 18-0).
The most improved team from last season, based on winning percentage, is the Centennial Colts.
The Colts won just one match in 2016-17, losing 17 straight matches. This season, the Colts have picked up five victories, and sit in a tie for fourth place in the East Division at 5-4.
With another victory, Centennial will match the six wins it achieved in 2015-16 when it made its return to OCAA men's volleyball following a long absence.
JUST THE STATS
One bright spot on Mohawk this season is the play of second-year player Mitch McFadden (Stratford) who is leading all OCAA players averaging 5.1 points and 4.48 kills per set.
First-year middle Xavier Demers (Wendover) of La Cité leads the OCAA with 149 kills. Third-year outside hitter Sam Otten (Delaware) of Fanshawe is the OCAA leader in service aces with 25, while Canadore third-year middle Josiahs Fiddler (Elliot Lake) is the conference blocks leader with 33.
Georgian third-year setter Liam Gray (Barrie) is averaging 9.77 assists per set, tops in the OCAA.
NEW POST-SEASON FORMAT
The OCAA is offering more post-season play in 2017-18, with the top seven teams in each division (not including the championship host) advancing to the crossover round.
Match-ups will be based on seeding, with the top seeds in each of the divisions squaring off against the bottom seeds in the opposite division. The second-best teams will take on the second-worst, and so on. The higher seed will host.
Here is a look at potential crossover match-ups:
Seneca (2-6) at Fanshawe (11-0)
Conestoga (4-6) at George Brown (7-2)
Algonquin (3-5) at Humber (7-2)
Sheridan (5-4) at Durham (5-3)
La Cité (4-5) at Redeemer (7-2)
St. Clair (5-4) at Canadore (5-4)
Niagara (4-4) at Centennial (5-4)
Championship Bye: Georgian (9-0)
CURRENT PROVINCIAL RANKINGS
1. Georgian Grizzlies (2nd CCAA)
2. Fanshawe Falcons (5th CCAA)
3. Humber Hawks (11th CCAA)
4. Redeemer Royals (13th OCAA)
5. Sheridan Bruins
6. George Brown Huskies
7. Niagara Knights
8. St. Clair Saints
9. Durham Lords
10. Conestoga Condors
- OCAA -
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