Rams blow two set lead, fall in five to Warriors
TORONTO - Senior night definitely didn’t go as planned for the Ryerson Rams men’s volleyball team against the Waterloo Warriors at the Mattamy Athletic Centre Saturday night. Up two sets to none, the Rams dropped the next three against a resilient Warriors’ squad (25-21, 25-22, 20-25, 22-25, 14-16).
Ryerson’s Lucas Coleman (Brooklin, Ont.) put down a game-high 24 kills in the losing effort while Brendan Kewin (Milton, Ont.) added nine and graduating senior Uchenna Ofoha (Markham, Ont.) seven. Adam Anagnostopoulos (Waterloo, Ont.) racked up 42 assists.
On the other side of the net, four different Warriors collected twelve or more kills. Braden Cok had 16, Jordan McConkey 14, Kevin Lebreux 12 and Aidan Simone 12. Waterloo’s setter Nikola Dimitrijevic finished with 50 assists.
The big difference in the game was the Warriors blocking ability. Waterloo’s front row came through with a number of big stuffs late in sets that helped swing the momentum their way. In the end, they finished with 17 total blocks compared to Ryerson’s 12.
Coming off a 3-0 victory over the Guelph Gryphons the night before, the Rams had things figured out in the opening set. Down 16-13 at the technical timeout, Ryerson took advantage of a few attack errors by Waterloo and strung together five points to go up 18-16. With the Rams leading 23-21 a little later, an attack error by the Warriors’ Aidan Simone allowed Coleman to wrap up the first set with a powerful service ace.
Ryerson continued to cruise in the second but ran into some trouble. Up 16-8 at the technical timeout, Kewin put down a few more kills to push the Rams’ lead to 20-12. The Warriors collected the next eight straight points to knot things up at 20 and make it interesting down the stretch. Tied at 22, Coleman fired two passes from Anagnostopoulos to the floor and blocked an attack by Waterloo’s Andrew Smondulak to seal it for Ryerson.
With the opportunity to wrap up their final regular season game in three sets, the Rams came out flat in the third set and that opened the door for the Warriors. Nine kills and seven errors by Ryerson compared to 13 kills and only three errors by Waterloo powered the Warriors to the 25-20 win.
In the fourth, a kill by Will Otten (Delaware, Ont.) gave the Rams a 21-20 edge. The Warriors took four of the next five points though, including two aces by Simone, to go up 24-22. An enormous block by LeBreux and Matthew Mawdsley on Ofoha gave Waterloo the 25-22 victory and pushed the match to the distance.
Going into the fifth, it was clear that the Warriors had all of the momentum. Tied at eight, Waterloo grabbed six of the next ten points to go up 14-12. On the brink, Coleman hammered another ball to the floor before Johnny Lin (Toronto) came up with a huge block in the middle on Mawdsley to even things up at 14. The Warriors bounced back though. A kill by LeBreux put Waterloo up one and a nasty double block by Simone and Dimitrijevic on Otten ended it.
Ryerson finishes the 2016-17 regular season with a record of 12-6. They currently sit second in the OUA East division behind the York Lions (12-3). The Nipissing Lakers (10-5) and Queen’s Gaels (9-6) trail the Rams, but both have three games remaining on their schedules.
Waterloo improves to 7-8 to stay fourth in the OUA West.
As the only team in the province that has played all 18 of their regular season games (every other team in the OUA has at least three games left), Ryerson now has to play the waiting game. The next week of action around the league will determine where they finish in their division and who their OUA quarter-final opponent will be.
NOTES: Ofoha, Otten and Anthony Cicchi (Stoney Creek, Ont.) were honoured before the first serve of the match for their time at Ryerson… With his big night, Coleman currently sits first in the province in kills (260) and kills per set (4.41). Furthermore, he hit a huge milestone in the fifth set. The fourth year now has 1001.5 regular season points in his career.