A new beginning

The Warriors men’s volleyball team had a superb season last year, finishing third in the OUA with an overall record of 16–4 but losing in the semifinals to Western. Head coach Chris Lawson expects the team to match last year’s success despite losing veteran players Aleks Poldma, James Evans, Tyler Motherwell, and Scott Thomson.

“Our expectations are the same: to get to the final four and then hopefully take that last step to come into the top three and get into the CIS championships,” said Lawson.

This year, the roster is very young as the only players with over two years of experience are Brandon Baker, former all-star; Zachary Doherty, all-star middle; Jordan Dyck; and OUA Libero of the Year, Erich Woolley. Additionally, starting setter Gibson Graham will be out for half the season due to an injury, so the Warriors will rely on first-year setter Nikola Dimtrijevic until Gibson’s return.

With such a young roster, coach Lawson and his staff will look to give the less experienced players some playing time.

“The reason our guys on the floor right now are as good as they are it’s because they played as first-years. Five of those guys (the starters) are only in second year. If you don’t play these guys when we have opportunities, they don’t develop. They have to develop on the floor, not on the bench,” said Lawson.

The Warriors men’s volleyball 2014–2015 season opened up against the RMC Paladins on Saturday, Oct. 18. Last year, RMC finished dead last in the OUA, not winning a single match, and finishing with a record of 0–20.

In the first set, the Warriors showed some rust as most of the points the Paladins scored came from service errors or attack errors. Despite this, the Warriors’ strong net play and passing held the Paladins from going on a run, as they never had a lead, which eventually led to the Warriors taking the first set 25–18.

In the second set, the two teams exchanged blows as the score hit 5–5, but with Dyck serving, the Warriors were able to gain momentum and score six straight points and taking an 11–5 lead. From there, the two teams continued to alternate scoring points, but the Paladins were able to rally off three points in a row, making the score 17–14. The Warriors were able to retaliate with four straight points of their own, eventually winning the second set 25–17.

The third set saw Lawson sub off veterans Dyck and Woolley and replace them with second-year right side Braden Cok and first-year libero Philippe Piche. Despite this substitution, the Warriors were able to increase the pressure on the Paladins and open up the third set with eight straight points, six of those points coming via blocks from Jordan McConkey, Aidan Simone, and Cok. The Warriors did not take their foot off the pedal and trampled the Paladins, winning the third set 25–9.

The final score of the game was 25–18, 25–17, 25–9.

Leading the way for the Warriors was McConkey with nine kills and eight blocks, and Doherty with nine kills and five digs. Simone with four kills, four blocks, and eight digs, and Aaron Wiersma with eight kills, were both very productive.

As for setter Dimtrijevic, in his first ever OUA regular season game, he dished out 31 assists while only having one setting error.

“[Dimtrijevic] did great for a guy that is on the floor, because we have an injury to our veteran setter, a guy that came in thinking he’s gonna be a backup, all of a sudden he’s got to carry the load for a team that has expectations to be in the playoffs. That’s a very tough spot so he’s a done a very good job at being cool and not letting the stakes bother him,” said Lawson.

The Warriors will look to keep the momentum going against a tougher opponent in the York Lions on Friday, Oct. 24 at Rim Park.


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