TORONTO - A career-best 30 kills from prolific striker Lucas Coleman guided the Ryerson Rams men’s volleyball team to a come from behind five-set victory (19-25, 25-12, 21-25, 27-25, 15-9) over the Toronto Varsity Blues Friday night.
Coleman, who recorded at the time a career-best 25 kills against the Windsor Lancers a game-ago, continued his tear of kills with an impressive 30 against the Varsity Blues on Coca-Cola Court and has registered an excessive 55 kills in his last two-games.
Adam Anagnostopoulos also finished the night with one of his best career performances and put up 56 assists in the win. He missed beating his career best by just two after he recorded 58 in a 3-1 win over Western last season.
The point at which they break remains to be found for the Rams after Friday’s win represented their second straight five-set victory. They bent but never broke in a thrilling five-set match against the Lancers last weekend and had a similar outcome against the Varsity Blues. Although the wins aren’t pretty, Rams’ head coach Dustin Reid insists that they are extremely crucial as they move forward as a team.
“Any time you win in five it’s important,” embarked Reid following the win. “Those (fifth) sets can go either way and if we can develop some comfort, maybe a bit of confidence in a fifth-set against any team… then that’s huge for us.”
The Varsity Blues were swept at home in their home opener by the Rams and looked determined beyond measure to inflict some revenge Friday night. The opening set had the Varsity Blues up 16-11 over the Rams, after they opened with unprecedented intensity. The Rams, at one point, got to within four at 20-16, but were closed out after a series of errors and evidently lost the set 25-19 thanks to a William Colucci kill.
“The way Toronto came out in the first set with the aggression they showed, the intensity and the emotion… it was obvious how important the match was to them,” said Reid. “They took it to us a bit there.”
The Rams responded with a statement of a second set. They finally connected their inside and outside movement to force past the Varsity Blues’ block and came away with a 25-12 second set win. The power began to show throughout the lineup with kills from Uchena Ofoha, Brendan Kewin, and Brett Whitley in the set. The passing from Anagnostopoulos was too hard to track for the Varsity Blues’ defense and was a big reason the Rams were able to even sets at one.
The third set played out to be a mixture of the first two and made for a rather close affair. Back-to-back kills from the Varsity Blues’ Nicholas Trewen, followed by a series of errors from the Rams had them up 7-2 to start the set. Coleman, who would end up with a set-high six kills, teamed up with Kewin for four straight points via kill. The Rams chased all set long and evidently dropped the third-set 25-21 as the Varsity Blues headed to a fourth set with a 2-1 advantage.
After a Trewen error put the Rams up one in the fourth, the Varsity Blues put together five-straight points and nine out of the next ten to take a 9-2 lead. The Rams managed to turn things around and became relentless on the block. They came up with a number of impressive digs as well and forced the Varsity Blues to a number of attack errors, en route to even things 12-12 mid-way through the set.
Coleman and Colucci traded kills throughout the back-and-forth latter of the set and forced extra points with things tied up at 25. Back-to-back Coleman kills sealed the deal for the Rams as they forced a fifth and deciding set with a 27-25 fourth set victory.
The Rams’ come from behind mentality never faltered in the fifth set, even when they were on top, as they overpowered their way to a dramatic 15-9 win. Kewin and Coleman were once again the benefactors of a number of crucial points down the stretch with Ofoha coming in clutch thanks a plentiful of key blocks and kills.
The second-straight five set victory over the Varsity Blues was a true testament to the Rams’ character and was considered a must win beforehand. The way they battled back and saw the job through made for a happy coach.
“Our guys showed a ton of heart. We could have found a dozen ways to lose that fourth set and lose the match,” said Reid. “And to come out with a good level of intensity in the fifth was a nice sign because in other moments, well…we have come out flat. Great win I think, I don’t know if it’s a piece of art, but it’s a big result for us.”
Friday night's win was also the first one at home this season and improved the Rams’ record to 5-3 on the year. It’s been a content start to the season and Reid realizes there’s plenty of work to do.
“Our team is still a work in progress. We have worked really hard the first half and to get those results the last two matches, when we desperately needed them even though we weren’t playing at the top of our game, was huge for us,” said Reid. “We hope to get another good result tomorrow and head into the Christmas break and the exam period feeling good.”
The Rams prepare to welcome the Trent Excalibur to Coca-Cola Court for the first time tomorrow night with the first serve scheduled for 6:00 p.m. The game can be streamed live via oua.tv, courtesy of Rams Live.