Photo by Christian Bender

Rams thrive under pressure, down Lancers in five sets

By Christian Ryan

TORONTO - The Ryerson Rams dug their way out of a familiar situation, besting the Windsor Lancers 3-2 in five strongly contested sets Saturday night at the Mattamy Athletic Centre.

Tonight’s victory comes at an opportune time, as the one-and-done weekend victory sees the Rams sitting on top of the OUA East standings. This isn’t the first time that the Rams have been No. 1 this season, but there have been struggles as of late.

Those struggles were apparent in the third and fourth sets, as what looked to be a clean sweep quickly became a tense battle to the end. As finesse and bravado turned to errors and complacency, Rams head coach Adam Simac knew that he had to light a fire under his team heading into the fifth set - a position they have been in four times in the last five games.

“I tried to recreate the sense of urgency that we had in the first two sets,” Simac said. “We got complacent in the third and fourth sets, and we started to let the little things fall through the cracks. Those cracks turned into big holes after enough things fell through.”

As the Rams took to the court once again for the fifth set, all of the pieces fell into place once again. Lucas Coleman (Brooklin, Ont.) was dropping cross-court kills with laser precision, Adam Anagnostopoulos (Waterloo, Ont.) made it nearly impossible for the Lancers to clear the net, and Simon Davis-Power (Conception Bay South, Nfld.) lived up to his name as an unstoppable force. All in all, the Rams were playing like the Rams.

“Part of what makes these guys such fantastic student-athletes is that they are all really intelligent guys,” Simac said, “and the first two sets we won because we used, not only our physicality and our volleyball ability, but we used our heads. We stopped in the third and fourth sets. We need to remember that being a student-athlete is a massive asset here. Especially for a school like Ryerson.”

While previously mentioned names were more experienced players, one of the more eye catching presences on the court was freshman libero Jackson Dunning (Ottawa, Ont.). Making his first appearance in the 2018 portion of the season, Dunning was certainly outmatched by the sheer power and experience of the other players on the court, but a few flashes of brilliance with diving digs certainly was an attention-grabber.

“He shook off the rust pretty fast,” Simac said. “It was a good first step tonight. I think with a bit of time off, and then having a decent week of practice next week, and a good preparation week for Queen’s and RMC, I think we’re going to see the real Jackson Dunning come out.”

The battle-tested Rams will now enjoy a well deserved week off, maintaining a two game winning streak into the break. They will next take to the court in a Kingston road trip, facing off against the RMC Paladins on February 16th, and the Queen’s Gaels on February 17th.

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