By Brenda Molina-Navidad
Ryerson Rams (2nd OUA East, 12-6) vs Western Mustangs (3rd OUA West, 11-6)
Game 1: Saturday, March 4 at 6 p.m. @ Mattamy Athletic Centre
Season Series vs Western: 0-1 (3-1: 25-19, 20-25, 23-25, 14-25)
It’s déjà vu for the Ryerson men’s volleyball team as they get ready to face the Western Mustangs in the quarter-finals of the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) playoffs, again.
Around this time last year, the Rams were celebrating their 3-1 victory against the Mustangs in their first postseason game. Their winning momentum continued when they beat Queen’s University and secured a spot in the finals against McMaster University.
Although Ryerson did not see a gold medal that year, their silver was a huge victory in itself, marking the team’s second appearance in an OUA finals and fa seventh overall national finish. They had the chance to compete against Canada’s top teams at the U Sports championship, including eventual the national champions, Trinity Western.
With their recent accomplishments, there were great expectations for the team and the pressure was definitely on this season. The men started off strong with their first win against the University of Toronto and picked up another 11 victories over the rest of the 18-match regular season.
In October, Ryerson had the chance to play against the Mustangs, who are in the opposite OUA West division. That matchup—the most recent between the two—resulted in a 3-1 (25-19, 20-25, 23-25, 14-25) loss for the Rams in Mustang territory.
Ryerson had an early lead taking the first set by six points. Then the tables turned in the second. The Mustangs were comfortably leading throughout and tied up the game at one set a piece before taking the third set and the lead.The Rams were not able to come back in the fourth. Attacking and serving errors from the blue and gold added points for Western’s side of the scoreboard until the game was over.
It’s uncertain how much home court advantage will help the Rams in their match against Western. The Rams won as many games on the road as they did at Coca-Cola Court with six victories each.
Ryerson seniors Brendan Kewin and Adam Anagnostopoulos have played in all 18 matches so far this season. Kewin leads the team with 105 digs. He also has 171 kills, but fellow outside hitter Lucas Coleman is leading with 260, the third-most kills in the OUA . Setter Anagnostopoulos has also made his presence felt; his 9.61 assists per set are third-most in the league.
Western University finished third in the OUA West standings with an 11-6 record. They started their season strong with that October win against Ryerson, who are now their first rivals in the postseason.
Western’s longest winning streak this season was four matches, but they ended their regular season with a 3-0 loss against York University. The team has a hitting percentage of .245 and have made an average of 8.38 digs per set. Libero Nathan Phelps leads the team with 105 total digs. Another one to watch out for is outside hitter Bryn Ramsay, who has made 153 kills in his 16 matches played.
Western will be looking to avenge last year’s playoff loss and come into the game knowing they’ve defeated the Rams already this year.
The Rams have a long postseason road ahead of them if they hope to improve on last year’s second-place finish, and will have to bring their best defense and offense to make school history.
That road starts today at the Mattamy Athletic Centre when the Rams take on the Mustangs at 6 p.m.