It’s adjustment time for the men’s volleyball team as their focus shifts from a national championship to fighting for a playoff spot.
The Rams new starting six will be a combination of returning veterans and rookie recruits. Last season’s starting lineup is gone. Clayton Carimbocas and Rob Guenette flunked out of school. Andrew White and Mike Griffin are on academic suspension. Setter Jamal Thomas transferred to York university to pursue Kinesiology degree and captain Paul Carter has left to concentrate on his studies.
The new lineup has changed more than the team’s goals. The chemistry problem which plagued the Rams last season is gone, along with the egos, attitudes and lack of commitment.
“One of the most important things I learned is that we have to focus on cohesiveness and chemistry as a team,” said coach Mirek Porosa , who returns for his third season. “Too many different characters, too much ego, we never got together as a team last season. This year the players are playing for the team, not themselves.”
Porosa hopes dedication to team play and an improved work ethic will result in wins later in the season. “Commitment is not just saying and dreaming, it’s showing up and working hard. The players showed each other they want to work hard and achieve something together.
New assistant coach Laurence Bishop comes to the Rams from Durham College, where was head coach of the men’s volleyball team. Bishop will stress academics and help the team with their time-management and planning, so to avoid losing more players to academic problems.
The Rams’ biggest weakness this season will be lack of size, especially in the centre. They won’t be able to block as aggressively and will have to dig more balls.
The Rams will need big efforts from their veterans to succeed this season. They’ll be counting on new captian Kimmo Hamalainen for leadership and experience.
Mark Reid will also be crucial to the Rams’ offence.
Ryan Carpenter, who is switching back to middle from setter, is expected to become one of the Rams’ fiercest hitters.
“I have confidence this year I haven’t had in the middle before,” said Carpenter. “I think it’s going to be fun to play again. We lost sight of that last season.”
Another key will be the play of starting rookie setter Mike Chumbley.
“He’s going to make a tremendous difference. He was one of the best setters to come out of high school this season. He has very nice, soft hands and is very good at distributing the ball and reading defences,” said Porosa.
Chumbley believes he is ready to play university volleyball. “It’s a totally different level here. You’re not playing against kids anymore, you’re playing against men. I’m excited about the challenge.”
The team will struggle to make playoffs this year. But they only need to finish fourth in the Ontario University Athletics East Division, which isn’t unrealistic since there are only five teams.