Mohawk’s volleyball teams opened the Ontario Colleges Athletic Association regular season with a pair on wins at Redeemer Royals on Wednesday (Oct. 31). The women rallied to beat their arch rivals, 3-1 (23-25, 25-17, 25-22, 25-23), while the men needed five sets to edge the Royals, 25-22, 25-20, 23-25, 17-25, 15-13.
The men’s match was an intense encounter before the usual large and noisy crowd in the Redeemer Gym. The Mountaineers looked like they were headed to a three-game sweep until the Royals mounted a fierce comeback, forcing a fifth and deciding set, which was just as dramatic, with Mohawk pulling out the victory by two points.
Mo Sulaiman led the Mountaineers with 17 kills and two stuff blocks. Trevor McLaughlin had 11 kills and one block and Marcin Jedrzejewski had nine kills and one service ace.
For the Royals, Eric Heidbuurt had 16 kills, one ace and four blocks. David Klomps also had 16 kills, as well as one ace and one block and Calvin Fast produced nine kills, three aces and one block.
Mohawk head coach Matt Schnarr said his young team has a resiliency that Mohawk’s not had for some time.
“We went up 2-0 and we knew Redeemer was going to battle and pick up their play,” said Schnarr.
But Mohawk battled in the fifth set and pulled out the victory. “We’ve got four rookies on the floor and the first off the bench is a rookie, so technically we have five rookies out there,” said the coach.
“For them to come out and play the way they are, I’m definitely proud.”
Schnarr said being relieved (with the result) is an understatement because of the considerable parity in the league.
The Mohawk women had to rally several times in their match. In the opening set they were down 21-10 and Redeemer had to withstand a furious comeback by the visitors to take their two point decision. And even though Mohawk won the last three games, they had to settle down in sets three and four, after trailing 6-0 and 4-0 respectively.
Kristin VanHartingsveldt led the Mountaineers with nine kills, two service aces and one stuff block. Chantal Baker had seven kills and two aces, and Julie Gagnon came up with four kills, three aces and one block. Defensively, Libero Melanie Patenaude was her usual dependable self, with 10 digs, while rookie Setter Lindsay Collette collected nine digs.
Curtiss Straatsma paced Redeemer with 11 kills and one ace, while Elise Kollenhoven had six kills, three aces and two blocks.
Mountaineers’ head coach Andrew Nicholson said it was a good way to start the season.
“We’ve learned how to come back,” said Nicholson. “We’re going to be very scrappy. We’re a team that’s not going to give up, and I think they are learning about themselves to be competitive. We’re s smaller team, certainly smaller than Redeemer. We work on our defense. We have to keep the ball in play and if we do that, the other team is going to make mistakes. That’s what you saw during this match. They are starting to believe in themselves.”