A marathon battle took place Friday night (Feb. 1) at Niagara College as the Redeemer Royals men’s volleyball team squared off against the Knights in Ontario Colleges Athletic Association action. After arguably the most entertaining and competitive game of the year was complete, the Redeemer Royals found themselves on the wrong end of a thrilling 3-2 result.
The game, which saw both teams throw everything they had at one another, was a clash of OCAA titans. The Royals entered the match ranked No.1 in Ontario and No. 2 in Canada and were on an 11-game winning streak. Niagara entered the game at No. 2 in Ontario, No. 5 in Canada, and on a six-game run.
Redeemer and Niagara exchanged the first two sets with the Royals taking the first 25-18 before the Knights tied it up with a 25-19 win. The Royals seemed to be in control in the third set but the game remained close throughout. The Royals took a 2-1 lead with a third set 25-21 win.
From there, the match picked up intensity and, despite a few runs by each team, the game went back and forth throughout. The Royals had a chance to put the Knights away for a 3-1 victory but Niagara battled back and took the fourth set, 27-25.
The inevitable final set was no different from the fourth. Both teams exchanged points and mini runs but neither team was able to build a gap large enough to really take control.
Redeemer had an opportunity to close out the match a number of times for the victory but for the first time in 12 games, Redeemer struggled on match point when it really mattered. A number of missed serves kept the Royals from finishing the match and Niagara eventually capitalized for the 24-22 decision.
Redeemer will now turn its attention to Humber College in the hopes of getting back to their winning ways when they host the Hawks on Wednesday (Feb. 6). The Royals will look to secure themselves a top two finish in the OCAA West Division, which would give them an automatic bye to the provincial championships.
Not to be lost in the storylines, the Lady Royals dropped a critical 3-0 decision to the Knights. The match, important in determining potential playoff positioning, saw Redeemer fail to really challenge the Knights as the game scores were 25-22, 25-17, 25-19.
Coming into the match, Redeemer held onto fourth place in the West division with Niagara sitting behind the Lady Royals in the standings. With the loss, Redeemer falls to 7-8 on the season and slips into a tie for fifth with the 7-8 Knights.
Redeemer will now look to key match ups against Mohawk and Sheridan to determine their playoff fate.