In their first games of the new year, the Royals were tasked with taking on the conference-leading Camosun Chargers, and passed their biggest test of the season with flying colours.
On Friday night, they opened with a 25-19 win before dropping two straight sets, only managing 15 and 12 points respectively. With the game on the line, the Royals grinded out a 25-21 set win to force a fifth set, which they won handily by a score of 15-8. Reid Marriott was immense in the match with 14 kills on 27 attempts and 5 aces, while Max Haronga chipped in with 12 of his own on 27 attempts.
The beginning of the match brought with it concerns that the clash between the two top teams in the province would not be able to live up to expectations, as the holiday rust reared its ugly head with a run of successive service errors on both sides of the net. The players would settle in, as a cycle began of the Royals opening 3-point leads and the Chargers closing the gap, before the Royals would again go on another 3-point run. Eventually Camosun became unable to answer back, and the Royals would take the set 25-19 on a Haronga kill.
In the second and third sets, it was the Chargers who would go on extended scoring runs to increase the score gap. Camosun scored 4 points in a row to go up 5-1, and with an 8-5 lead, put up eight consecutive scores as part of an 11-2 run that put the Chargers up 19-7. The Royals eventually regained some composure, but dropped the set 25-15.
Early on in the third set, the Royals were up 8-7, but again lost several consecutive points, going down 14-8. They closed the gap to as little as three points but were unable to complete the comeback as Camosun went up 2-1 with a 25-21 win.
The fourth set was the closest, as both sides traded blows up until 19-19. With the game on the line, Douglas scored four straight points to open up a lead, dropped two, but scored two more to take the set 25-14 and force a decider.
The fifth and final set was all Royals. Energised by their comeback, the Royals went on a 7-2 run to open the set and had two other runs of three consecutive points en route to a 15-8 set win to take an exciting 3-2 victory.
The game was a mirror image of the match from the previous night, as Douglas went up early, dropped two consecutive sets, won a close fourth set, and came out on top in the decider. Haronga notched an incredible 19 kills in the match, while Marriott put up a big 17. John Colobong seemed to settle into the libero role with 18 digs. Early on in the fourth set, with the Chargers up 2-1 and a set away from winning the match, the Royals' afternoon looked to be finished as the Chargers went up 6-1, but a series of kills and aces from Reid Marriott gave the Royals a 3-point lead. Camosun climbed back into the set, but the Royals did not slow down, scoring six straight points as part of a 10-2 run. The Royals were thankful for the resulting 9-point cushion as the Chargers would again attempt to come back, but the Royals took the set 25-20 and forced a fifth set for the second game in a row. The Royals won the opening point of the final set, but traded blows with the Chargers up to 10-9. With the Royals down a point, they scored five straight to put themselves one point away from winning the match, and after surrendering a point on a Max Haronga attack error, Reid Marriott finished off his banner weekend with the game winning kill.
With the two wins over the leaders, the Royals leapfrog the Chargers for first place in the PACWEST. They visit the College of the Rockies next weekend to take on the Avalanche.