OUA men's volleyball mid-season review
Source: OUA Communication
HAMILTON, Ont. – The first half of the Ontario University
Athletics (OUA) men’s volleyball season has provided exciting
matchups throughout the fall and at the holiday break the
favourites are sitting atop the standings.
It has been a combination of repeat performances from big name players and the emergence of new faces stepping up to lead their teams through the first half and OUA breaks down the fall performances.
Through the first nine games the Mustangs have been pretty near perfect. Their unblemished record of 9-0 puts them atop the standings and they swept six of those nine games, recording a loss in just four sets thus far.
Second year player Garrett May (Scarborough, Ont.) is continuing his successes after winning rookie of the year honours last season. He leads the team with 102 kills. His offensively gifted teammate Phil James (Ottawa) is second in the league in total points with 130, combining solid numbers in kills, blocks, and service aces. He also boasts the top kill percentage at .569 which also leads the nation.
Western has been ranked nationally each week of the season and
is proving to be among the elite in OUA action. The ‘Stangs
are half way to a perfect season, something that hasn’t been
done in OUA play in five years, and are poised to play host to the
OUA Final Four championship as the number one seed.
The Marauders enter the break on a four game winning streak which has helped garner them a national ranking at the No. 9 position. Their record of 7-2 leaves them in second place in OUA play.
McMaster has had a solid team game through the first half and certain players have taken advantage of increased court time. Jori Mantha (Vanier, Ont.) leads the team with 72 kills while Michael Sjonnesen (Cambridge, Ont.) is third in the league with 34 total blocks and is also smart with the ball on offence as he has a kill percentage of .354. Kevin Stevens (Winnipeg, Man.) is having another productive year, putting up 75 total points so far.
Setter T.J. Sanders (London, Ont.) has run the offence
efficiently and sits fifth in the league with 276 assists. He has
also been dangerous at the service line, recording 15 aces so far
to sit second in the league.
Two-time first-team all-star Jeremy Groenveld (Welland, Ont.) has only appeared in 14 of the team’s 33 sets and his return to the lineup on a consistent basis would be a big boost for the Marauders.
Windsor boasts one of the most balanced offensive attacks in the league as three players sit in the top five for most kills. That offence has helped the Lancers to a 6-3 record and a tie for the third place standing at the winter break.
Harrison Oake (Rodney, Ont.) leads the league with 130 kills and 145.5 points and has been the number one option as he also leads in total attacks. Teammate Ryan Le (Windsor, Ont.) sits second in kills with 115 while last year’s player of the year Kyle Williamson (Essex, Ont.) sits fifth with 103.
The effectiveness of any offence is powered by the setter and when your team can rack up as many kills as the Lancers have, you can bet the setter is getting a lot of high fives. Fifth year senior Will Alexander (Windsor, Ont.) leads the league with his 382 assists and has helped put this Windsor squad in a position for their best finish in eight years.
The Lancers have a core group of senior players who are looking to finish their OUA careers with a trip to the Final Four and a shot at the championship.
The Gryphons went undefeated in the month of November, picking up five wins in that span. The streak caught the attention of those around the league and helped earn them an appearance in the national rankings. The appearance was brief, however, as Guelph lost their last two games before the break and dropped out of the rankings picture. Their 6-3 record overall leaves them tied for third in OUA play.
Third year Andrew Whitaker (Sharon, Ont.) has had a great start to his season and he currently sits fourth in the league with 107 kills. He has also played well defensively and is second among the Gryphons with 47 digs.
Last year’s top point getter for the Gryphs is at it again as Winston Rosser (Whitby, Ont.) is fourth in the league for total points with 126. Guelph has done well at the net, leading the league as a team with 137 blocks and sophomore Marc Wilson (Stratford, Ont.) is the top individual blocker with 39.
If Guelph can get a third player rolling as another reliable option to Whitaker and Rosser, the Gryphons should be able to dominate those below them in the standings and pose as a threat in the playoffs.
In a year where Queen’s has been preparing to host the national final, the Gaels struggled through the first portion of the season. Their 5-4 record puts them in fifth position heading into the break which should come as no surprise considering each team they have lost to is currently ahead of the Gaels in the standings.
Niko Rukavina (Mississauga, Ont.) leads the charge defensively as he sits tops in the league with 108 digs and posts the best dig per game average at 4.5 per set.
It’s been a one-man show on offence as Joren Zeeman (Cambridge, Ont.) sits third in OUA with 109 kills. His next closest teammate is Michael Amoroso (Toronto) who has essentially half as many kills with 55. Amoroso has been solid on all sides of the game though, registering 19 blocks which is best on the team and is second in points for the Gaels with 80.
Queen’s will have to pick up their pace and take down the top teams if they want to enter the CIS championship as the OUA champion.
The Lions are one of two teams tied for the sixth and final
playoff spot as teams hit the winter break. York is looking to
return to the postseason for the first time since the 2006-07
The first half was a real team effort from the Lions, with several players on their way to having solid seasons. Coach Dyba has been able to mix in his youngest players to give them exposure and help progress for the future.
The Lions have a strong blocking duo in Gregory Ivan (Toronto) and Felipe Humana-Peredes (Toronto) who sit fifth and sixth in league blocking heading into the break. Ivan also leads the team with 93.5 total points. Nikola Sandic (Etobicoke, Ont.) leads the club with 74 kills while veteran Ray Szeto (Sutton, Ont.) is right behind him with 72.
This group of players is working well together and could very well take the Lions to the next level.
So far this season it has been a pair of sophomores leading the way for the Warriors which bodes well for their future. Waterloo sits tied with York for the sixth position with a 4-5 record heading into the break.
Second year Jordan Dyck (St. Catharines, Ont.) has been a force at the net, recording 36 blocks which is good for second in OUA and owns the best block per game average at 1.24 per set. Fellow sophomore Fiodar Kazhamiaka (Waterloo, Ont.) has been solid on both sides of the ball as he sits ninth in the league with 87 kills and seventh with 62 digs.
Cam Wheelan (Barrie, Ont.) has fit in well with the Warriors in his final year of eligibility, recording 86 kills thus far.
Waterloo has been unable to win more than two games in a row but are coming off an upset victory over Guelph in their last match of the fall. They are hoping to carry that momentum into some exhibition play over the break and forward into the second half of the season.
Toronto Varsity Blues
The Blues have a ways to go to turn in the first winning season since 2005-06 as they sit eighth with a 2-7 record at the break. However, with such a young team, the goal may not be based on results but rather on improvement.
Senior Mitchell Woodside (Clyde River, P.E.I.) leads the team with 81 kills but sophomore Jake Dysselhof (Mississauga, Ont.) is right behind him with 80. Dysselhof has been strong and is among the top ten in the league for total points scored. Rookie setter Steven Khuu (Lethbridge, Alta.) has taken control of the offence and has 245 assists to rank him seventh in the league.
Second year libero Michael Denton (Scarborough, Ont.) continues to improve his play and is sitting second amongst OUA players with 88 digs.
This may not be the year for Toronto but if the Blues keep seeing improvements like they did in the first half, they may not be far from being a contender.
Like their Toronto neighbours, Ryerson is a team still developing for the future. Their 2-7 first half record ties them for eighth place.
The program took a big step forward this fall as they defeated
second place McMaster. Unfortunately they were unable to sustain
that sort of success and have dropped their last five games.
Third year transfer Brian Batista Bettencourt (Acores, Portugal) leads the team and is sixth in the league with 64 digs. Senior outside hitter Luka Milosevic (Toronto) leads the team with 74 kills and 95.5 points. Freshman Alex Dawson (Scarborough, Ont.) has matched Milosevic’s success, tallying 66 kills in the first nine games of his career. Fellow rookie Marc Reardon (London, Ont.) leads the team with 18 blocks.
The Rams have some core players in the system that they can build around for the future but likely will need more time to develop before they become front runners.
When a losing streak lasts for as long as the Paladins have been suffering, the pressure begins to mount to break the streak. Winless since the 2006-07 season, RMC has been unable to register a ‘W’ through the first half of this year.
Sean Vanthournout (Sackville, N.B.) has taken advantage of his 6-7 frame and sits fourth in the league with 32 blocks. Tyler Leknois (Kingston, Ont.) has been the main target on offence, recording 70 kills. The Paladins will need some secondary scoring to get rolling so opponents can’t focus solely on Leknois.
Setter Eric Hawn (London, Ont.) has played smart volleyball and takes care of his defensive assignments well as he leads the team with 37 digs.
It’s times like these where small victories can mean a lot, and right now the Paladins would just like to win a set – something they failed to do in the fall.
Men’s volleyball action returns to the court in January with the best matchup coming January 8 as the Gryphons battle with Western.
January 6, 2012
8:00 pm – Toronto @ Windsor
8:00 pm – Ryerson @ Western
January 7, 2012
2:00 pm – Guelph @ Queen’s
2:00 pm – Waterloo @ RMC
3:00 pm – Ryerson @ Windsor
8:00 pm – Toronto @ Western
January 8, 2012
8:00 pm – Windsor @ Waterloo
8:00 pm – Western @ Guelph
8:00 pm – RMC @ McMaster