Photo: Izabella Balcerzak

Men’s volleyball: Waterloo stuns Rams in regular season finale

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By Hilary Punchard

  • Rams close out regular season, await playoff opponent
  • Waterloo gets 11 points off Ryerson errors in third set
  • Ryerson’s Lucas Coleman takes OUA lead in kills and kills-per-set with 24-kill performance

Ryerson’s men’s volleyball team coughed up a two-set lead in their final match of the regular season, losing 3-2 (25-21, 25-22, 20-25, 22-25, 14-16) to the Waterloo Warriors in an intense five-set match on Saturday evening at the Mattamy Athletic Centre.

With the loss, the Rams fall to 12-6 on the year and sit second in the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) East division with 24 points. As the only team in the league to have played all 18 of their regular-season matches, Ryerson could enter the playoffs in a lower seed than their current one. Nipissing is four points back of Ryerson for second place in the division, but the Lakers have three matches remaining on the year. Waterloo improves to 7-8 in fourth place in the OUA West.

Lucas Coleman had a match-high 24 kills, propelling him into first place in the OUA in both kills and kills-per-set. But Coleman’s effort was outdone by the combined play of Waterloo’s Braden Cok (16 kills), Jordan McConkey (14 kills), Kevin Lebreux (12 kills) and Aidan Simone (12 kills).

The Rams started off strong in the first two sets, but their success was short-lived as the Warriors picked up their serving game—Waterloo had nine service aces on the night—and Ryerson’s hitting percentages fell.

“We came out really aggressive [and] I thought we were prime to take them three straight,” said Rams assistant coach Matthew Harris. “They put a little bit more pressure on their serves and on our side, and our efficiency dropped a little bit there.”  

The Rams looked to be in control after the first set. Coleman put his team ahead by two after a Waterloo service error made it 21-20 Ryerson before a pair of Warrior errors and a Coleman service ace clinched the opening frame  25-21 for the Rams.

Ryerson jumped out to a 20-12 lead in the second set before the night began to unravel. The Warriors used three kills and three attack errors and a pair service errors from Ryerson to win eight straight points to tie the set. Trading points with the visitors, the Rams edged out a win on attack error by the Warrior’s Andrew Smondulak before the tide turned completely.

After hitting at forty per cent in the first set, the Rams’ hit percentage shrank to .083 in the third as Ryerson managed just nine kills. Cok recorded seven kills for Waterloo, but service errors and attacking errors undid the Rams; they made up 11 of Waterloo’s points 25 points, including the set winner.

Trailing by four points in the fourth set, Coleman, Uchenna Ofoha, Brendan Kewin and Will Otten all scored kills to put the Rams up 21-20. Ryerson couldn’t close out the match, though, as a pair of service aces from Simone gave Waterloo set point before an attacking error from Ofoha sent the game to a tie-breaker.

The teams traded points in the tiebreaker, drawing even at 14-14. After a kill from LeBreux set up match point for Waterloo, the theme of the night continued as an attack error by Will Otten finished the game when his spike was blocked by Simone and Nikola Dimitrijevic.

UP NEXT: The Rams will have to wait until regular season play concludes to find out who they will face in the first round of the OUA playoffs. The last day of the regular season is Feb. 25.

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