Bold men’s volleyball edge another nationally-ranked opponent, top off Guelph in straight sets

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Nashra Syed

The Toronto Metropolitan University (TMU) Bold men’s volleyball defeated the U Sports No. 10 ranked Guelph Gryphons in their second-last game of the semester at the Mattamy Athletic Centre (MAC) on Friday night. 

The squad fought hard to secure a much-needed second win of the year. The Bold previously ran a 1-6 win to loss ratio, earning their first win of the season against Queen’s University—who were ranked No. 8 in the country at the time—just last week.

“I think we definitely ride our confidence. When things are going well, we’re a much different team and the focus of this semester has been ‘how do we play when we’re behind,’” said interim head coach Niko Rukavina.

Sustaining a concussion during the pre-season, setter Saad Shaikh made his first home game appearance this season.

“I was working on my body, taking care of my mental health and whenever coach wanted me to play, I was going to be ready to play,” Shaikh said.

Shaikh has been a leader for the team since his earlier years and the team was happy to see him back.

“I think Saad coming back healthy, we just missed his leadership and competitive nature a lot,” said Rukavina.

Fourth-year Omari Young played the game’s first serve. A rally between the two teams earned the Gryphons their first point. But the Bold just needed a little push and that’s when outside-hitter Jacob Walker came in with the kill to tie the score.

An intense two sets were put to an end when middle Alex King and Walker came to the team’s rescue with two kills. The duo was too powerful, earning the team a one-point lead.

The first timeout was taken by the Bold, with the Gryphons leading 16-14.

Two back-to-back blocks by Young earned the Bold a score of 23-21 right before a timeout was taken by the Gryphons. The Bold went on to win the first set with a score of 25-21. 

With the Gryphons earning themselves the first point of the set, the Bold powered through to get an early three-point lead with a 5-2 score.

Looking for hope in the second set, powerful kills by Walker and blocks by King put the Bold in a 14-9 lead position, earning them cheers from the crowd.

Now only two points away from claiming the second set, a Gryphons serve was met with a Walker kill. High pressure built on the Gryphons as the Bold went on to win the second set with a 25-16 score.

With a total of 31 assists, Shaikh helped lead the Bold to defeat the Gryphons with a final  25-15 set.

“I’m just doing my job, putting my teammates in the best position possible. I gotta give it to my teammates, if they don’t score, I don’t get that assist,” he said.

The team knocked down two nationally ranked teams in as many games and prepare to find another on Saturday in a rematch with Guelph. 

“We’re just riding high from the win last weekend and this win. I think that’ll motivate us tomorrow,” said Rukavina.

UP NEXT: The squad pulls up to the MAC on Saturday at 8 p.m. as they look to end off the year with another win against the Gryphons.

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