Rams men’s volleyball team makes easy work of RMC

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By Nashra Syed

The Rams men’s volleyball team secured a spot in the playoffs after pulling out a win over the Royal Military College (RMC) Paladins on March 5 at the Mattamy Athletic Centre (MAC).

The team celebrated its graduating athlete, fourth-year film student Sean Shultis before the game.

“It was kind of surreal, it’s been a long journey,” said Shultis. “We’ve gone through a lot of team dynamics and mechanics, different coaches, it’s been very up and down. At the end of the day, I’ve got my boys and as long as you’ve got that family, that’s all you need.”

The Rams were off to a strong start with third-year Saad Shaikh’s serves, winning two back-to-back points. The Paladins kept the Rams on their toes, trailing by one point before the Rams took another point off of them. 

Outside hitter Jacob Walker’s serve put the Rams up with a score of 11-9. The Rams were able to keep up their short lead thanks to outside hitter Nick Hudson’s kill and Shultis’ serve. The Paladins made a comeback mid-set winning consecutive points to tie the set once again. 

Second-year Alex King’s and outside hitter Kai Higuchi’s serve helped the Rams jump back into the lead, with a score of 16-14 before the first technical timeout of the game was taken.

A strong kill by Walker caused the Paladins to take their first timeout of the game, breaking their consistency with a kill by the Paladins. The Rams were able to keep up their momentum with Walker landing another kill. Higuchi’s kill forced the Paladins to take another time out with the Rams leading 22-19.

Two dives by Shaikh and another kill from Higuchi were enough for the Rams to rack up points. With the set coming to a close, first-year Adrian Gaspar was able to end the set with a serve and attack error by the Paladins at 25-22.

Shaikh started the second set off with a serve, causing the Paladins to fall 2-0 with kills made by Walker and Hudson. The Paladins were able to take its first lead of the match at 3-4 but the Rams were ready for attacks dominating the set. 

“We were prepared to go to a five set match if we had to, obviously we wanted to win in three if we had that chance,” said Rams interim head coach Niko Rukavina. “We were prepared to have a punch back from [RMC] and a bit of a shift, but I think our guys really held it down.”

With the set tied, King was able to pull another point for the team. A service error by the Paladins gave the Rams the hope they needed despite playing a close set. Walker’s strong and consistent kills helped the Rams obtain the lead they needed before going in with a stellar serve. A double block by Higuchi and King led the set into the second technical timeout.

The Paladins’ consistency was cut off by an attack error and a tip off by Shultis. An unsuccessful dive by libero Lhexen Rabit shifted the tension toward the Rams. Two saves by the Paladins weren’t enough to secure the point, with the ball going out of bounds. 

Higuchi’s kill put the Rams one point shy from winning the set. The Paladins’ missed opportunity cost them the set, earring the Rams another win of 25-18.

The Paladins kicked off the third set with a lead over the Rams. The Rams didn’t let their pride break, with a save and kill by Walker puting them one point above the Paladins. Shaikh’s service error then brought the set to another tie. 

Despite the Paladins’ effort bringing the game to a close set, Higuchi’s kills overwhelmed the visitors, putting Rams at a four point lead over the Paladins. A bad set by the Paladins let the Rams continue on with their lead, looking to close the set with a win. 

Rabit’s quick dives and Higuchi’s kill once again helped the Rams secure their mid-set lead. Gaspar’s serve and Hudson’s kill gave the Rams a 19-12 lead before a timeout was taken by the Paladins.

Looking to close the set with a win, the Rams fumbled a bit allowing the Paladins to take a few points off the them. But close to the end of the set, Rabit’s dives were a saving grace for the team, keeping the Rams two points away from another win. 

The Rams ended the match in celebration, taking the third and final set and a win over the Paladins.

UP NEXT: The Rams look set to have a rematch with the Paladins on Wednesday as the postseason gets underway. The first serve’s time has yet to be announced.

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