By Shi Davidi
Look our OUAA, the Ryerson Rams volley team has arrived.
After months of frustration, the men’s team put together all aspects of their game to beat the University of Toronto Varsity Blues at home and split two matches with the Queen’s Golden Gaels in Kingston.
The Rams, a squad oozing with potential, finally gelled as a six-man unit. They defeated the Blues, who are ranked sixth in the country and the Golden Gaels, who are second in the OUAA East. The win versus U of T was the first ever for the men’s volleyball program, and the win against Queen’s the first in five years.
The U of T match started badly for Ryerson, as the Blues annihilated them 15-1 in the first game. Then, ignoring the old adage “let sleeping dogs lie,” the Blues trash talked their opponents.
“They started talking on the other side and we said, ‘fucl them, let’s play,’” said Rams middle Clayton Carimbocas, who was a force at the net all night.
The Rams turned the match around, led by the strong setting of Jamal Thomas, who distributed the ball to all of Ryerson’s hitters. The Rams drilled spikes through Blues blockers and dominated the net, taking the second game 15-11.
After dropping the third game 15-6, the Rams recovered the momentum and won the fourth game 15-5.
The tense fifth was a see-saw affair. Down 6-4, the Rams grabbed control and opened a 9-6 lead on the blocking of middles Rob Guenette and Carimbocas and the hitting of powers Andrew White and Mike Griffin. After a huge block by Griffin set up match point, a Blues spike sailed wide sealing the Rams’ 15-11 win, sending both players and fans into a frenzy.
“We decided to believe in each other and become a unit,” said Thomas.
“Nothing could disturb the vibe on the floor,” said White, who consistently smoked the ball. “It was really comfortable out there.”
“We always knew we could beat them,” said team captain Paul Carter, who was tremendous defensively and hitting from the outside. “We’re coming together right when we need to.”
Blues coach Orest Stanko was upset with his team after the loss, which was their first of the season.
“We can’t afford to think teas are going to roll over and die,” he said. “Ryerson is a quality team. They gained the momentum and didn’t give it back. It’s a credit to them.”
For Rams coach Mirek Porosa, it was the culmination of a year’s work.
“We had to go through the shit before we can get to this,” said Porosa. “The guys deserve all the credit. U of T doesn’t give up easy games. You have to earn it.”
The win also earned them respect in the league. In Kingston, they met a Queen’s team that was ready for them.
The Rams dropped the first two games in Saturday’s match, 15-9 and 15-8, and were down 8-12 in the third game before Carimbocas and Guenette took control.
“They were unbelievable,” said assistant coach Paul Grossinger. “They hit well, they blocked well, they were unstoppable.”
Led by Carimbocas and Guenette, the Rams won the fourth game 15-7, to force another fifth game. The Rams fell behind 10-7 in the deciding game before recovering to take a 14-12 lead. Queen’s fought back to tie the match before Carimbocas and Griffin finished them off 16-14.
“It was an amazing match,” Porosa said. “When you beat established teams on the road, it proves how good you are.”
The Golden Gaels swept Sunday’s match 3-0, taking advantage of the fatigued and emotionally drained Rams. Still, Porosa was thrilled with the effort of his team.
“To come back twice at this level, you have to show skill. No one gives you anything,” he said. “It was a great week for us.”
For Carter, beating U of T and Queen’s after four years was a huge relief.
“It’s a monkey off my back,” he said. “I wanted to leave beating every team in the division and now I can.”
Unfortunately the Rams won’t be able to finish higher than fourth in the east, which means a first-round playoff match against U of T on Feb. 15. The Rams last regular game will be this Saturday Feb. 8 against York in Kerr Hall gym at 3 p.m.