By Josh Beneteau
The Ryerson men’s volleyball team (13-5) lost a heartbreak five-set match to the York Lions (11-7) Saturday night, 28-30, 25-15, 25-22, 17-25, 13-15.
After beating Nipissing in straight sets Friday night, the Rams started this game slow, going down 4-0 in the first set and taking a timeout early to calm their nerves. After that time out they roared back to tie it 4-4 and then the match was on, with both teams trading monster kills and blocks.
The Rams actually went up by as many as three points but York closed in and ultimately one in extra points 30-28.
“York is a much tougher opponent and we knew that,” assistant coach Chris McLaughlin said. “I wouldn’t say physically they were tired as much as mentally tired. And that’s something we’ll be able to work on in the long run.”
The next two sets saw Ryerson really dominate and it looked like they had the game in the bag. In the second set Ryerson led by as much as nine and then took it by 10, 25-15. The team benefited from some York service errors in the third while also getting big kills from outside hitters Robert Wojcik and Lucas Coleman to take it 25-22.
Coleman led the team with 18 kills followed by Wojcik’s 13.
But then something changed in the fourth, where Ryerson looked sluggish and quickly got down by as many as six points. With the score 14-8, Rams head coach Mirek Porosa subbed out Wojcik, middle Alex Dawson and setter Alex Anagnastopoulos to give them a break and to get some fresh faces on the court.
“It was tough,” Anagnastopoulos said. “Not to make excuses but in terms of our mindset we were definitely a bit of a rollercoaster tonight.”
While the move did spark the Rams a little bit, they never really gained any ground on York and lost the fourth set 25-17.
“We seemed to have a breakdown right from the beginning of the fourth set,” McLaughlin said. “[Porosa] switched in three guys just because it looked like our starters weren’t getting it done and to hopefully get them to come out in the fifth set more fresh.”
For the fifth, Porosa put his three starters back in and the set was closer. But every time Ryerson would tie it, York would get the next point off big kills from Ray Szeto and Josh Henderson. Coleman tied the game 12-12 with a powerful ace, but York would get two more big kills to seal the victory.
“That’s volleyball,” McLaughlin said. “Sometimes it’s just a two-point game at the end after about two and a half hours of play it falls without getting the win so it was a tough loss for us.”
With Waterloo also losing Saturday night, the Rams hold on to second place in the Ontario University Athletics standings by virtue of a tiebreak. But the team was still hoping to gain some ground on the Warriors before they meet in the season finale last week.
Before that, Ryerson hosts the University of Toronto Varsity Blues on Feb. 6 at 8 p.m.