Joel Colter, a middle blocker for the Cougars men’s volleyball team, excels at blocking shots
Joel Colter is a master of rejection.
No, Colter does not routinely break people’s hearts. Instead, the fourth-year faculty of kinesiology and health studies student focuses on breaking up plays on the volleyball court.
Colter has recorded 40 total blocked shots (tbs) and 1.48 blocks per set (bps) for the University of Regina Cougars men’s volleyball team so far in his first season with the team. The middle blocker is third in Canada West and fourth in the CIS in bps and is fourth in the conference and 15th in the CIS in tbs.
“A lot of it has to do with teamwork,” noted Colter on his success. “Our outside guys have been setting really good blocks and funnelling the ball towards me. When they get blocks, I usually get partial credit if I help close.”
There are three blockers, two outsides and one middle, on the court for each team in volleyball. Their primary job on defence is to contest the opposition’s spikes and prevent them from scoring easy points. Naturally, when you are jumping up high in the air, it helps to have a height advantage. At 6’4, Colter is a small blocker.
But what he lacks in height, he makes up for in other skills.
“I have a lot of speed, which helps me get into the right position for a block,” explained Colter. “To be a good blocker, it takes a lot of good speed laterally and a lot of discipline. You’ll see a lot of guys come in and try too hard for the block and they end up moving their arms too much. Most of the time, if you just go up and be solid, hitters usually find you.”
Colter has been able to master the technique of blocking shots through a lot of playing time. He became a blocker early in high school, switching over from a setter. Colter notes it was a little difficult catching up with the speed of the game at this new position and having to now hit the ball all the time on offence instead of setting up hitters. But, he only improved as time went on.
Before coming to Regina, Colter most recently played with the Lethbridge College Kodiaks of the Alberta College Athletic Conference. He put up blocking numbers in the ACAC similar to his numbers with the Cougars now. Of course, that was the ACAC, a league less competitive than the Canada West.
Colter admitted that “Canada West is a much tougher league so I didn’t expect to have this kind of success.”
There has been one area, according to both Colter and Cougars head coach Greg Barthel, where Colter has not duplicated his past success.
“We thought he would contribute more on the offensive end,” Barthel confessed. “Still, the first thing you look for in a middle is defensive abilities.”
Even with the minor offensive woes, it has been a solid relationship between Colter and the Cougars since he joined the squad. For Colter, it has meant coming to a university where he could finish his degree and settling down somewhere familiar to his hometown of Brandon, Man. He has been living with some teammates off campus. For the Cougars, it has meant acquiring the services of a quality player.
“He’s brought a lot of experience to the middle position, which we really needed,” offered Cougars head coach Greg Barthel. “He’s performed really well when it comes to blocking and is a pretty good all-around player.”
This solid relationship has unfortunately not produced many victories for the Cougars. Regina is buried in the conference standings at 1-7. Regina’s past struggles are well-documented. Last season, the team did not even win a conference game.
It leads to a question that everyone associated with the organization is likely tired of hearing, why the struggles?
“I don’t think our record is very indicative of our play,” noted Barthel. “We’ve had some close sets and we’re very competitive.”
“We’re hoping to turn that around this semester when we have some of our easier games,” added Colter, whose squad resumes regular season play this weekend in Alberta. “It is still going to be a pretty big fight for us.
“After that first semester, the mood isn’t too great (amongst the team) but everybody has high expectations. Hopefully, we’ll improve a little bit and start having some more success. This is going to be the year when try to turn our record around a bit and hopefully draw some more talent in.”
When it comes to blocking, Colter is poised to put up better numbers than any Cougar has for several seasons. Since the 2006-07 season, the highest number of blocks recorded by a Cougar in a season was 53 (Blake Wheler) and the highest number of bps was 0.81 (Drew Smith). With a full semester still to go, Colter should easily finish with higher numbers in both categories.
It is not something Colter is worried about.
“It doesn’t mean much when you measure it up to our record,” he pointed out. “It is a team sport for sure. All the individual success I have is only important if it’s helping the team.”
Colter’s rank amongst past Cougars
Joel Colter (2010-11)
Matches Played: Eight
Total Blocks: 40
Blocks Per Set: 1.48
Blake Wheler (2008-09)
Matches Played: 18
Total Blocks: 53
Blocks Per Set: 0.80
Drew Smith (2009-10)
Matches Played: 18
Total Blocks: 46
Blocks Per Set: 0.81
Noah Roellchen-Pfohl (2006-07)
Matches Played: 18
Total Blocks: 40
Blocks Per Set: 0.62