Gryphons edge Rams in five set thriller
HAMILTON, Ont. - A seesaw affair between the Ryerson Rams men’s volleyball team and the Guelph Gryphons went the distance Saturday night as the Gryphons captured OUA Bronze with a 3-2 (20-25, 25-23, 25-19, 21-25, 13-15) victory at Burridge Gym in Hamilton.
After jumping out to a convincing opening set advantage, the Gryphons dropped sets two and three at the hands of the Rams, but stormed back with a purpose en route to fourth and fifth set wins for the OUA hardware.
The balanced attack from Gryphons Zachary Newman, Joshua Green, and Kendrick Kerr made it hard for the Rams to depict their well-spread attack. They combined for 49 of the Gryphons’ 68 kills on the evening with Kerr leading the way with 18 kills and an attack efficiency of 43%.
The Gryphons led from start to finish in the opening set but the Rams remained close and within one to two points until the sets last moments. A string of three attack errors and a service error by the Rams gave the Gryphons the padding they needed in order to run away in set one, and they did just that on way to a 20-25 first set victory.
The Rams looked more like themselves in sets two and three, and finally began to penetrate the walls of the Gryphons defense. The Rams’ Lucas Coleman began to heat up and hit eight of his 32 kills on the evening in the second set. Despite a late set surge from the Gryphons to tie the set 23-23, a Gryhpons attack error followed by a Brendan Kewin ace gave the Rams a 25-13 set win and evened the sets at one apiece headed into the third.
The third set was where the Rams truly appeared to have turned the tables on the Gyphons. Rams’ Setter, Adam Anagnostopoulos did an excellent job sending the ball inside-out and also contributed with a couple of cheeky dumps to the oppositions floor for quick points. The Gryphons battled all set long with their inner demons and hit just .065% compared to an efficient .310% from the Rams. With penetrating offense and the Gryhpons’ apparent struggles, the Rams cruised to a 25-20 third set victory and just a single set away from OUA Bronze.
However, the Gryphons returned to form in game altering ways with the impressive use of their serve and pressure in set four. The Gryphons knocked down three aces for timely points and shut down the outside attacks from the likes of Coleman and Will Otten late in the frame. A 21-25 fourth set win for the Gryphons forced the all decisive fifth set where they delivered a heartbreaking result to the Rams.
The Gryphons’ Kerr and the Rams’ Coleman went head to head, kill for kill in the do-or-die fifth. Coleman finished with seven kills in the set, while Kerr finished with just three, but it was the spread of wealth that made the Gryphons dangerous.
The use of Kerr, Green and Newman forced the Rams a number of times to guess on where the ball was going. At times they were right and at times they were wrong, and at 13-13, the Rams went up to contest the Gryphons’ Green, who sent a ground trembling kill to the floor for match point. With the game on the line and OUA Bronze in the balance, the Rams sent the ball to Coleman, who was stuffed by the Gryphons Samuel Nothnagel for the 13-15 fifth set victory as the Gryphons defeated the Rams 3-2 for the OUA third place finish.
With the Rams’ season officially coming to an end so does the careers of fifth year Uchenna Ofoha and fourth year Will Otten.
Ofoha went out with a bang after putting up a career year in his final season with the Rams. He finished the 2016-17 season with career bests in kills, kills per set, blocks, and blocks per set. He finished his career just two kills shy of 300 at 298 and rounds out his five years at Ryerson with a career 35% hitting efficiency from the floor.
Otten, who transitioned from lebraro to outside hitter this season, has been a monumental part of the Rams core throughout his career. He was amongst the OUA’s best lebraro’s throughout his time in the position and finished his career with an impressive 515 digs and a 2.37 digs per set. He made good on his transition to outside hitter this season and finished the year with 49 kills over 14 matches.