Last Nov. 10, the Saint Clair Saints defeated the Redeemer Royals in Ontario Colleges Athletic Association men’s volleyball, 3-1 in Windsor. At that time, the Royals had a record of one win and two losses.
Since then, Redeemer has posted an impressive 11 straight wins for a 12-2 record. The Saints almost ended what they started back in November, but a resilient Royals team fought back from being down 2-1, to win 3-2 on Saturday (Jan. 26) in front of the home crowd.
Everything seemed to be going according to plan on Saturday as the Royals won the first set, 25-20. The next two sets, however, saw the Saints win in extra points, 30-28 and 26-24, to put the Royals on their heels.
Unforced errors kept St. Clair in the match as Redeemer seemed unable to keep the ball in play. The Saints were able to capitalize on their hosts mistakes and, led by outside hitter Tom Charbonneau (15 kills), St. Clair found itself in a position to win the game as they did in the first semester.
Despite their poor play, the Royals showed their resiliency and continued to scrape out points. Second-year setter Jake Klassen (Surrey, B.C.) was able to spread out the offense and the Royals found a way to keep themselves in the match. Three players had double-digit kills for Redeemer as the Royals battled hard, taking the fourth set, 25-22, and the fifth set, 15-11. As they have done all season, Redeemer proved that even not playing at their best, they can find a way to win.
The ‘Klassen to Klomps’ combination was again too strong for the opponents as David Klomps (Surrey, B.C.) finished with 22 kills and 24 total points. Aaron Vanderlugt (Burlington) had 14 points and Eric Heidbuurt (Waterdown) had 12.
Head coach Wayne Harris gave credit to his starting setter as one of the reasons for the Royals record.
“Jake (Klassen) runs our offense with startling efficiency”, said Harris. “He is at 60% side-out efficiency against the top team in the OCAA West. He continues to confound opposing blockers, generating one-on-one hitting opportunities for our guys. He also defends position one very, very well.”
Klassen and the Royals also picked up a win on Friday night (Jan 25) against the Fanshawe Falcons. Game scores were 25-17, 25-23, 25-22, as the Royals swept their London opponent 3-0.
Calvin Fast (St. Catharines) and Klomps each had 11 points while Heidbuurt had a game high 15 points for Redeemer. Libero Jesse Dykxhoorn (Holland Marsh) also had a strong match both on Friday and Saturday as he led both teams, both nights in digs.
With the two wins, the Royals continue to sit in first place in the OCAA West.
Redeemer will now turn its attention to arguably their biggest match of the season as they travel to Niagara College on Friday (Feb. 1) to square off against the second place Knights. Niagara is pushing for a first place finish of its own as they currently sit at 11-3. The Knights are on a six-game win streak and have not lost since Nov. 30 when they were defeated at Redeemer by the Royals 3-2.
Game time on Friday is 8 p.m.