Redeemer’s men’s volleyball team ran out to a 2-0 lead Thursday (Jan. 22) against the division leading and No. 2 nationally ranked Humber Hawks and held on for the 3-1 road victory in Ontario Colleges Athletic Association action. Set scores were 25-22, 25-17, 19-25, and 25-21.
In their biggest win of the season, the Royals refused to back down to the home team and became just the second opponent to defeat the Hawks on their home court this season.
It’s been an uncharacteristic season for the 3-9 Royals this past year and Thursday’s win against one of the top teams in Canada proved that matches in the competitive OCAA West are unpredictable. Programs can find themselves in or out of the playoff hunt in the blink of an eye with such a strong collection of conference volleyball teams playing at a very high level. The Royals have been a model of consistency over the last decade in the OCAA and Thursday’s win shows the fight and determination of a team that is accustomed to winning big games.
Head coach Brad Douwes summed up the match saying, “Going into Humber’s gym and taking them down is always a tough task, but it is always so rewarding. Despite having a tough season so far, our men came to play and I am proud of their effort. We put good pressure on Humber with smart serving and dialed in defense, forcing Humber to make a number of attacking errors.”
Despite their struggles in 2015, the Royals now look ahead to their remaining games on the schedule. Had the Royals fallen to the Hawks, the team would have essentially been eliminated from playoff contention. However, with the win, Redeemer moves forward facing four teams in their remaining six games with a combined record of just four wins and 31 losses.
The Royals will also need to look for wins against the 9-4 Sheridan Bruins and the 7-4 Fanshawe Falcons, both of which are at home.
“I’m excited to try and build our own winning streak to match what our men’s basketball program is currently doing”, said Douwes. “Despite being in a tough spot in the standings, we still plan to do some damage down the home stretch”.
Thursday, Eric Heidbuurt once again drove the offense for the Royals leading the team with 16 kills, 3 aces, and 2 blocks. Heidbuurt continues to be one of the premiere players in the OCAA and the only player in the province to be in the top 12 in Kills (4th), points (2nd), PTS/S (3rd), aces (3rd), and blocks (11th).
Humber’s Terrel Bramwell had a game-high 24 kills against the Royals. Going into the match, Bramwell and Heidbuurt were one and two respectively in the race for the OCAA Scoring title.
Redeemer’s Timon Moolman added eight points, while Jake Klassen had 28 assists.
Douwes was delighted with the team effort from his group saying, “It was a total team effort from top to bottom. Guys on the court were supported well by our guys on the bench – all 13 men played a role in getting us the win. On the court we were led emotionally by Timon and Eli. Shawn, Eli, and Morgan controlled the game on serve receive, allowing Jake to run an excellent offensive game. And as always, Heidbuurt played a big roll offensively, however it was his 13 digs that were even more significant”.
On the women’s side, Humber kept its incredible win streak intact with a sweep of Redeemer, 25-22, 25-10, 25-22.
It was another battle between two of the league’s top offensive players as Redeemer’s Curtiss Straatsma and Humber’s Thalia Hanniman met for the second and final time during the OCAA regular season. Hanniman came out on top statistically with 14 total points while Straatsma and Charlene DeVries each added team high nine points.
Like Heidbuurt, Straatsma is near the top in almost all offensive categories. When matched up head-to-head with Hanniman, Straatsma wins the battle in points, aces, digs, and blocks while Hanniman edges out Straatsma in PTS/S and kills.
Looking forward, the Royals now begin a very important stretch that will determine their playoff seeding when it comes to the provincial championship. In their final six league games, Redeemer faces five teams below them in the standings. Sheridan is the only team that occupies a higher spot. It will be important for the team to enter the OCAA playoffs having played great volleyball down the stretch and peaking at the right time.
Next up for both volleyball teams is a home date against the Conestoga Condors Saturday (Jan. 24) at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m.