By James Mirtle
Every sport has its sexy position. In football, the quarterback gets the glory.
With baseball, there’s the pitcher. And in volleyball, it’s the setter. “I would say it’s the most important position,” says second-year Ram Greg Marszalek. “Every ball should be run through the setter.”
Last year as a rookie, Marszalek filled in at the position admirably for Lukas Porosa, a former Ontario University Athletics all-star who was sidelined all of last season with a serious thumb injury. Marszalek ended up leading the team to a respectable 7-9 record and was named Ryerson’s male rookie of the year.
This year, however, Porosa is back in the mix and looking to reclaim his spot at the forefront of the Rams offense. First though, his dad has to decide who will play that role. “I believe in competition on the team,” said head coach Mirek Porosa from the sidelines at practice last week. “It comes from the depth on the team we have. [The players] have to feel the breath of the other players on their backs to improve.”
It may sound like a coach’s simple credo, but in reality, this particular situation is unlike anything the veteran coach has dealt with before.
“Well, Lukas is my biological son, so it’s much more difficult [to make these decisions],” said coach Porosa. “But when I met Greg, we just clicked. He’s an outstanding person, and I treat him as a son.”
It puts Marszalek in a tough spot, fighting with the coach’s son for the coveted position, but the 19-year-old from Braeside, Ont., doesn’t feel nepotism will be the deciding factor in who plays where. “I don’t think so,” said Marszalek. “I have a really good relationship with Mirek. I mean, he knows Lukas, and knows what he’s capable of, and he’s also seen me play all last year.
“There is competition [between Lukas and I], but we both respect each other on the court and off. We try and really fight for the position, and Mirek will make the decision. With the level of talent on this team, everybody feels pressure to perform.” “It’s been more competitive during practice than other years,” said the younger Porosa. “Before, it was already established. This is the first time we’ve had two quality setters.”
Both players are versatile enough that they can fill other positions on the team. At 6-foot-3, Marszalek offers a bigger block in the power position than the 5-foot-11 Porosa, but both are adept enough at libero, a recently-instituted defensive position. The only problem with moving one to libero is that it’s not either player’s desired position.
“It’s extremely hard because both should play on the court,” said coach Porosa. “They are the cornerstone and future of this program. “I believe I can use them both, but I try to put it into the right perspective. As long as we are winning as a team, it’s a secondary thing, and they have to understand that as well.”
There have been rumblings from other members of the team that some players prefer to have Lukas as their setter. But what is it, if anything, that separates the two? How will the coach base his decision? “Lukas is more ,” he said, his voice trailing off.
The affable coach hesitated a moment, caught in an impossibility not unlike comparing one child to another. “Well, I don’t want to get into the details.”