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TMU Bold men's volleyball player Alex King
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Bold men’s volleyball fall in final home game of season

By Daniel Carrero

The Toronto Metropolitan University (TMU) Bold men’s volleyball team fell to the University of Toronto (U of T) Varsity Blues in four sets on Saturday night at the Mattamy Athletic Centre (MAC). 

After losing in four sets the previous night, the Bold couldn’t fix their mistakes. With their last two games on the road, TMU closes out their home schedule with a loss. 

“I think it wasn’t even an issue on our side,” said TMU interim head coach Niko Rukavina. “[But] just to give credit to U of T for their serve pass game, good on them to come to our gym and do that.”

TMU went up by seven early in an intense first set, which forced U of T to call their second timeout. The huddle corrected all of the Varsity Blues’ prior mistakes, as they managed to recover to force a tiebreaker. The visitors ultimately won the first set at 27-25. 

TMU ended the first set with a hitting percentage of .333 while U of T ended with a .324 percentage. 

“We can only get better and build so we are excited for that”

The Bold took the early advantage to start the second set as they were up by four before the Varsity Blues called a timeout.

However, midway through the second set, the game’s intensity rose.

With the score at 16-12 in the home side’s favour, fourth-year TMU right-side hitter Alex King pushed the ball over the net against the blockers and it then bounced out of bounds. Despite it seeming as if it deflected off the U of T blockers’ fingertips last, the point was awarded to the visitors. 

Third-year TMU setter and team captain Taylor Wenzel approached the referee to clarify the ruling. After a long pause to discuss the play, Wenzel was shown a yellow card for disagreeing with the official’s decision.

“I was just confused on why that wasn’t a call,” said Wenzel. “But in the heat of the game, it fired up the crowd and it was one of those crucial points that I wanted to fight for that set.” 

As a result of the ruling, the crowd at the MAC grew more engaged in the game and helped build momentum for the Bold.

TMU placed their anger correctly and won the set 25-22 to tie the game at one. 

“The guys powered through and it was impressive,” said Rukavina.

During the third and fourth sets, U of T took complete control of the game much to the help of second-year outside hitter Jayden Talsma, who ended the game with 24 kills, nine digs and two aces. Talsma was set up for success throughout the night by second-year Varsity Blues setter Michael Hickey, who ended the night with 50 assists. 

  • TMU Bold men's volleyball player Alex King spikes the ball
  • Members of the Bold men's volleyball team huddle together

The final two sets ended similarly for the Bold as they lost both at 25-21. The Varsity Blues’ dominance was evident in the third frame as they held the lead through its entirety to put them on the precipice of victory. The visitors then went on a 12-5 run to close out the win in the final set.

“We did what we wanted to do, and we adjusted well,” said Rukavina. “There were a couple of slow points at the end there. It’s a learning opportunity.”

The highlight of the night for TMU was third-year outside hitter Ben Davey who ended the night with 17 kills and a hitting percentage of .424.

“During some crunch moments, I think I could’ve played even better to help the team,” said Davey. “We are all exhausted now. It’s just disappointing because we want to win.”

While the Bold didn’t secure a playoff spot this season, they’ll look ahead to the next as all players are eligible to return.

“It’s huge because no one is leaving, which is nice for continuity,” said Rukavina. “We have a young starting lineup, so it will be good for us to have an off-season of training and know who our lineup will be moving forward.”

NEXT UP: The Bold go on the road to play against the Guelph Gryphons for two straight nights to wrap up their season. First-serve on Feb. 16 flies at 6 p.m.

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