By Mitch Bowmile
Last year, the Ryerson men’s volleyball had a berth in the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) final four. This year, they want to go even further.
In preparation for the season, the team hosted the 18th annual National Bank Invitational tournament. Ryerson took home the silver medal, losing to the York Lions 3-1 (30-32, 20-25, 27-25, 15-25) in the final.
Head coach Mirek Porosa said he uses the tournament, which also featured the University of Western Ontario and the University of Sherbrooke, to evaluate his players. He said he made sure every player got plenty of playing time in the five games.
“We’re setting the standards higher every year,” Porosa said. “The goal is to make the top four again.”
Last season, the Rams defeated the York in the OUA quarterfinals in order to advance to the final four. They ultimately lost to McMaster University who ended up winning the championship for the second year in a row.
So getting back there won’t be easy for the Rams. Porosa is realistic and understands the depth of the OUA conference.
“We’ve got so much talent on this team,” Porosa said. “[But] it’s going to be a dog fight until the end.”
The team, which is highlighted with stars such as 2014 OUA rookie of the year and OUA First Team All-Star Robert Wojcik, will be fighting towards improving their 12-8 record from last season, which landed them fifth overall in the conference behind York in the standings.
They also expect big things from three key sophomores, Will Otten, Lucas Coleman and reigning OUA rookie of the year Adam Anagnostopoulos. All three picked up some national experience over the summer when they won gold with Team Ontario at the National Team Challenge Cup.
One athlete who’s been red shirted this season but is seen to have great potential in the eyes of Porosa is Marko Milenkovic. The freshman, who stands at six foot four, is more than excited to be part of a squad with so much potential stating, “I think the experience as a whole is extremely humbling.”
Milenkovic is one of the recent recruits who will be stepping up to play once the current groups of seniors graduate, as Porosa runs his team in two-year cycles. Even though he’s not on the court for the games, Milenkovic is taking it all in and will prove a great asset in years to come.
“It’s great having a bunch of older players help me out and show me the ropes,” he said.
The team will lead off the season with a match against Guelph on Oct. 17th, which will be held at Ryerson. Last season, Ryerson faced Guelph twice winning both times they played.