Photo by Alex D'Addese

Rams beat Badgers in three sets to open 2018-19

By Cara Gilhula

TORONTO - The Rams came away with their first official win after three successful sets against the Brock Badgers during their season opener on Wednesday evening.

The Rams struggled off the top of the first set and could not find the rhythm of play. On the left side of the attack Eric Girard (Ottawa, Ont.) was having a tough start of the game with four errors when the score only sat at 1-7. Brock was taking advantage of the Rams’ mistakes, except it didn’t last long.

After a quick dig during a rally from libero Adam Sandeson (Lower Truro, N.S.), the Rams started to move more coherently on the court and find momentum.  

Trystan Morris-Fraser (Pickering, Ont.) demonstrated both offensive and defensive traits beside his fellow Rams. He was an asset for a number of points where he was able to target his kills onto the Badgers' blockers to provide them with an error, and the Rams with a point. Girard then picked up on this strategy and also continued to improve his accuracy during the powerful hits as redemption from the start of the game. Notably, Morris-Fraser was also able to receive any serve, and then, quickly move into position to provide consistent hitting for the Rams.

Throughout the first set, the Rams and Badgers went back and forth on the leaderboard. There was times where Brock would find the opening and cause the Rams defense to scramble, or they would get past the block, except they were also missing serves, giving the Rams an opportunity to catch up.

After the technical timeout Xander Ketrzynski (Toronto, Ont.) completed a strong kill to tie the score at 16-16. From there, it was clear that Ketrzynski had found comfort on his home court. He began serving harder, deep into the corners, to help catch the Rams up. During another strong kill, he gave the Rams the lead at 24-23. The Badgers then tied the Rams at 24 again, and luckily Brock’s service was out, giving the Rams the lead again at 25-24. Morris-Fraser thought it was time to complete the first set and finished the Badgers off with a kill to give the Rams their first win of the season at 26-24.

“I felt like at the start we were playing a little selfish because we were all trying to go for the big kill, but then we realized near the eight point mark that it is better to play our game and keep the ball in play, instead of killing the ball and receiving an error,” says Ketrzynski.

Into the second set, Ketrzynski continued to destroy the Badgers' defense. They did not stand a chance against his low line drives, or his cross court kills that gave the Rams a slight edge over the Badgers early on. This provided the Rams with confidence and helped them settle into the court overall as a team.

Unfortunately, the set allowed for the Badgers to catch up, and they continued to rally back and forth. The positive side of this was that there wasn’t much rallying happening during the first set. As a result, it was obvious the Rams were working together, anticipating where their teammates were going to be, and allowing them to set up strategic patterns on the fly.

Again the two teams were neck and neck, tied again at 24-24. In the rush of excitement the Rams earned a messy point, and then took the second set again at 26-24.

During the third set, the Rams quickly moved away from the Badgers. Between Ketrzynski’s strong kills, and Girard finding the opening, and the Rams moving together to keep pressure on the ball and letting the Badgers make mistakes, the Rams lead 8-2, and eventually it was 16-5 at the technical timeout.

Throughout the three sets, Navreet Suhan (Mississauga, Ont.) shut down the Badgers four times with block assists, which happened whenever the Rams needed a little push and reminder that they were playing on their home court.

Ketrzynski also outdid himself in the third set. He earned a number of kills by finishing off the Badgers during rally points. He also demonstrated a skillful pancake slide to keep the Rams in the game, along with other defensive plays, which helped lead the Rams to victory.

In total, Ketrzynski had 15 kills, four digs, and two blocks.

“It was a good starting point tonight, and I only want to try and get better from here because I knew I had to get high and deep into the corner. A few times I got caught trying to go for the bounce, so I eventually figured out my game was in the back corner and down the line because the blockers liked trying to stay inside and take away my shot,” says  Ketrzynski.

During the third set, the Rams won 25-17, earning their first official win of the season after taking all three sets from the Badgers.

“We play well when we play more as a team, so we need to do that earlier on, and if we keep up with that mentality then that is what is going to pull us through this season,” claimed Ketrzynski.

Looking ahead, the strong focus will be on consistent serving, and hitting the ball in before going up against Queen’s and RMC next weekend at the Mattamy Athletic Centre. The Rams will play on both November 2nd and November 3rd at 8 p.m. Follow us on Twitter for live updates.


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