Photo by Christian Bender

Rams put up five set fight with Lancers before elimination

By Cara Gilhula

TORONTO - After leaving it all out on the court, the Rams suffered a heartbreaking 3-2 (20-25, 25-22, 25-22, 23-25, 10-15) loss to the Windsor Lancers during the quarter-finals to eliminate them from the playoffs.

The Rams fell the first set, but were able to come back the next two in order to reach game four. Unfortunately, the Lancers took the lead once again to officially put the Rams out after a long, hard fought battle.

“I was really happy with the way we played. We caught them off-guard early on, we followed the game plan, and we executed what we needed to execute. Besides some of the plays in the fifth set that kind of went their way, we played an overall good game,” says interim head coach Niko Rukavina.  

The Rams earned the first point of the showing to get the ball rolling, and were able to earn a lead before the Lancers came back.

As expected, the Lancers came out strong, they weren’t letting up and pushed forward with their offensive strikes. All the while, the Rams were fighting hard and creating an opportunity to rally during each point.

Xander Ketrzynski earned a number of cross court kills, notably capturing a total of 30 kills before the end of game. Omari Young was also moving well on the front line between his hitting and blocking amongst his fellow Rams.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough to get by the technical, where the Rams were down 16-13. From there, the Rams slowly trailed the Lancers for a final of 25-20.

During the second set, the Rams were moving their offensive attacks around the court to keep the Lancers on their toes.

Young and Greg Vukets worked well in placing the ball to their advantage in order to keep the Rams in the game. Finally, the Rams lead 14-13, but the Lancers came back to lead at the technical 16-15. This initiated another round of back and forth points.

Fortunately, between Young’s quick plays and Ketrzynski’s consistent serves, the Rams were able to take the set 25-22.

The Rams came out buzzing for the third set and were up four before the Lancers were on the board.

It was a battle on both sides of the court. The Rams were able to recover well and push past the Lancers when they claimed a point. This helped the Rams take the technical at 16-12.

The Rams relied on clean plays to carry them through. For instance, Adam Sandeson carried the defence, and Vukets made the set to Young for a quick kill that left the Lancers in their tracks.

Jordan Baric was effective on the attacks and held his position. Together, Saad Shaikh and Navreet Suhan also put the Lancers in their place.

For a major upset, the Rams won the set 25-22 to take the match to game four.

This is where the Rams fell back into their old habits of getting caught up in their errors. They saw an inconsistency in serves, which set them back once again.

However, the energy was high and the Rams were not ready to give up.  Baric captured opportunities to trick the Lancers and earn a number of successful tips that pushed them ahead of the Lancers. Suhan was also fired up and saw accuracy in his kills.

The Lancers continued to find the openings, forcing a race to the technical, where Windsor came out ahead at 16-15. Then, the Lancers pulled ahead 25-23 to take the match into game five.

The Rams left it all out on the court, and took the lead off the start by 6-3. From blocking, to tactical kills and quick digs, the Rams weren’t ready to give up.

The Rams fell into a pattern of errors once again, giving the Lancers chances to find the openings, and eventually take the first half 8-6. Their control of the court continued for the remainder of the set to win 15-10 over the Rams and eliminate them from the playoffs.

“Rollercoaster is definitely the word that I would use to describe this season,” said Rukavina. “We've had a lot of up and downs and challenges that we faced, but we came out as a stronger group and it kind of showed at the end of the season here, so I'm really happy and proud of our team.”


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