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By Andriana Guigova

A deafening silence fell upon the Ryerson home crowd last week as the men’s volleyball team found themselves just short of a fifth set win over opposing McMaster University.

The Wednesday night game concluded with the second-place Marauders beating third-place Rams 3-2 (25-21, 18-25, 14-25, 25-23, 13-15). “We played hard, but lost momentum and it’s hard to come back,” said Rams head coach Mirek Porosa. “They came out on top. Good for them.”

The third set turned out to be disastrous for the Rams (11-5). The players fell behind early and couldn’t recover. “We just had a few bad bounces,” said Ryan Vandenburg, also voted Ryerson’s player of the game. “But it got in our heads. It was like a snowball. It just got bigger and bigger.”

The teams split the final sets, giving McMaster the win, and moving them ahead of the Rams in the Ontario standings. “It’s pretty disappointing,” Vandenburg said. “This is a big game for us, battling with a second-place team.” Stelio DeRocco, head coach of the Canadian men’s volleyball team, was in the stands scouting players, particularly Vandenburg, the top-ranked player in Canadian Interuniversity Sport.

“With the number 2 and number 3 ranked teams, you expect the intensity,” DeRocco said. He added that Vandenburg “is taking a great load of responsibility,” and the question that has to be answered now is whether he is “mentally and physically ready to go for the playoffs.”

The crowd, composed of hundreds of Ryerson students and Eggy the mascot, was treated to two dance performances between sets. The Journalism Course Union also received $100 as an award for having the most representatives in attendance.

The number of fans in the stands was not a point missed by DeRocco. “It’s great to be here and to see the enthusiasm,” he said. “The more people in the stands you can get, the better.” Volleyball attendance has improved recently, as the Rams set a record attendance level of 400 last week in their loss to first-place York University. “The crowd’s nice,” Porosa said. “It’s an extra incentive for players to come out and play hard.”

The team’s last regular season home game will be Wednesday night against Queen’s University. Vandenburg, for one, is counting on people coming out and showing their support.

“The crowd is just amazing,” he said. “We play for them. We wouldn’t have done the same without them. We hope they come out next week too. It’s a big game.”

Should the Rams remain in third place, they will host a playoff game on Feb. 17.

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