Digging down deep

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The men’s volleyball team had a solid silver showing at the fourteenth annual Ryerson Invitational. Remington Joseph, Lin Nguyen and Terry Sparkes take a look at how it all unfolded

Friday, Oct. 1

The Rams started the tournament on Friday without their top fifth-year ace Chris McLaughlin, who was sidelined with a sprained angle for the whole tournament. But the team compensated for his absence by chewing up the York Lions. Though the games were close, the Rams were clearly in the driver’s seat en route to 25-21, 26-24, and 25-23 wins. Luka Milosevic rendered the Lions helpless with a tournament-high eight aces and burned them for nine kills.

But the real test came on Friday night when the Rams faced the mighty Western Mustangs. They flunked with flying style. Western’s superior defensive play was ultimately the difference and the Rams were unable to generate any consistent offense. The Mustangs were able to win many points off of botched blocks and clinched the game in a timely fashion.

Saturday, Oct. 2

The Rams were unable to stop the bleeding from last night’s debacle as they dropped the ball against Sherbrooke on Saturday afternoon. They got behind the eight-ball early as Sherbrooke took the one-match lead. Some remarkable digs late in the game ultimately gave Sherbrooke the win, forcing the Rams into a do-or-die situation next game to earn a berth into the championship game.

With the pressure on in the final round robin game against Windsor, the Rams put the disappointment behind them and came up clutch and swept the Lancers. The McDonald-Milosevic-Kabanov combo was unstoppable as the team got on a roll early with a close 25-22 win in the first match and never let up. Robert Earl chipped in with some big diga and the team completed the comeback to the championship match against Western.

Sunday, Oct. 3

The Ryerson Rams played valiantly in the championship match against the Western Mustangs but were ultimately subdued by the tournament powerhouse. The Rams came out with an explosive start, as Luka Milosevic opened the scoring with his signature smash from the side of the net. The Rams took the first set 25-18, but fizzled after that. They dropped the second match 25-16, but looked to have rebounded nicely in the third match. Key blocks by Brett Penrose and Roman Kabanov helped the team grab a formidable six-point lead early on, but the Mustangs rallied to tie the game and won the match in overtime 27-25. Western continued to control the game during the fourth set, ending it 25-13.

The Rams’ Luka Milosevic and Aleksa Miladinovic won player all-star awards and Western’s Reid Halpenny took tournament MVP.

STARS OF THE TOURNAMENT

Roman Kabanov

Monster moment: During the Windsor game, he spiked the ball off one player’s face and it recochetted off another’s before dropping for the kill and an 18-12 lead.

Stingy defense: Back-to-back blocks as the Rams attempt to claw their way back into the game against Western.

Clutch timing: Refusing to say die, he laid down a giant spike to tie up the game 25-25.

On losing to Western on Friday night: “You might lack in some elements in certain games but you gotta make up for it in others…that’s just the game of volleyball, its never going to be a perfect game.”

Luka Milosevic

Leading by example: During the Western game, he put the team on his back with three straight kills in the first match.

Costly fumble: After an incredible performance against York, he couldn’t control his power on the serves, smashing many out of bounds.

Taking home the bling: Milosevic showed his prowess by serving eight aces and nine kills in the game against York. He earned a tournament all-star award for his standout play all weekend.

On team attitude: “There wasn’t really any fear. The team was pretty confident about winning from the start.”

Greg McDonald

Started off slowly: He couldn’t find his groove with limited playing time early in the tournament, looking sluggish and contributing little on offense.

Ended off strong: When he was given more responsibility, he delivered. He led the team in the Windsor game with some gutsy digs and an offensive fireworks display.

Serving up some laughs: Throughout the tournament, he led the peanut gallery from the sidelines as they chirped the other teams with bird calls.

On strategy: “If I’m hitting, I’m looking where the block is because I’m just trying to hit around it or I’m trying to hit the block and make it go out of bounds or something. After that whatever happens, happens.”

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