TORONTO – An important weekend lies ahead for the Ryerson Rams men’s volleyball team.  One that doesn’t necessarily make or break a season but a string of wins could go a long way in solidifying the type of team the Rams want to bring come 2017.

This weekend marks the last two games before the holiday exam break and represents a glorious opportunity to end the unofficial first half of the season on the right foot.

Just seven games into the 2016-17 campaign and the Rams have already experienced their fair share of highs and lows throughout a 4-3 start.  They’ve battled inconsistencies of late, and as a result, experienced back-to-back home losses two weekends ago. The Rams were then forced to the brink last weekend where they narrowly came away victorious in a five-set thriller. 

With the Toronto Varsity Blues and the Trent Excalibur coming to town for their scheduled visits to Coca-Cola Court, the Rams are in desperate need for an improvement to their 0-2 start at the MAC.

At home earlier this season, the Rams suffered back-to-back sweeps at the hands of the Nipissing Lakers and York Lions, which left a sour taste in the mouths of the Rams’ top players.

They returned to form the following match against the winless Windsor Lancers that saw Lucas Coleman put up 25 kills and 30.5 points for career bests in the five-set victory.  Adam Anagnostopoulos, who has been vividly disappointed with his passing of late, threw up a season high 51 assists and looked like his dominant self.  Brett Whitley also put together one of his most efficient nights with the kill.

The career night from Coleman, the usual form of Anagnostopoulos and an effective presence from Whitley have the Rams looking deadly coming into this home stretch. 

Friday night against the Varsity Blues will mark the second meeting between the two cross-town rivals this season.  The Rams traveled to the Goldring Centre in the season opener and left with a convincing 3-0 sweep.  This time around won’t be nearly as easy for the Rams as the Varsity Blues prepare to get even on the road. 

The Varsity Blues (2-3) offer a well-balanced attack that is led by senior William Colucci.  Colucci is extremely effective at the net with the kill and in the back row for the dig.  His 94 kills and 4.70 kills-per-set are tops on the team and sits third behind Jordan Figueira and Alex Farris in digs with 35. 

Colucci put up 13 kills in the season opener loss to the Rams and was bested by only Lucas Coleman’s 14 kills for tops in the game.  However, with Coleman sitting at 4.24 kills-per-set through seven, Colucci has been far more dangerous with 4.70 through five.  What’s terrifying is that Colucci’s 27 kills in last games 3-2 loss to York was also a career high for the striker, meaning that both prolific hitters in Colucci and Coleman will roll into Friday riding absurd amounts of confidence, in a game that is destined to have a number of warped balls due to impact with the floor. 

The Excalibur (0-6) are next in line on Saturday as they hit the MAC floor in search of their first win of the season.  The Rams will look to learn from their narrow win against the Lancers as they realized that desperation is often one of the most dynamic and unpredictable tactics in sport. 

Through six games this season, the Excalibur have just one-set victory to their name.  They own a number of league worst stats that include kills-per-set and digs, and have struggled immensely both offensively and defensively.  A league worst, 7.79 kills-per-set is a number that when continued, makes it extremely hard to ever reign as victor.  With the Excalibur struggling to find floor on the kill, opposing teams are able to send things back over the net and force them on a defensive back-pedal.  The Rams will look to do just that Saturday night in order to execute their game plan for a victory.

The Rams sit second in the East division with eight points and trail two points back of the Queen's Gaels for first.  Friday night’s match with the Varsity Blues is scheduled for an 8:00 p.m. first touch in what will be an exciting inner-city bout.  Friday will also bring an exciting and contagious atmosphere with it being OVA Club Day.  Saturday’s meeting with the Excalibur is set to commence at 6:00 p.m. with both games available live via OUA.tv, courtesy of Rams Live.