Unfortunately, playoff hopes for the UTM Tri-Campus Men’s Volleyball team were crushed on January 26 in a loss to the UTSC Maroons. UTM, however, looked forward to playing without the pressure of playoffs on their mind and looked to have fun for their game on February 2.
Before the game, The Medium spoke to fourth-year Diego Solari, second-year David Ugobor, and fourth-year Joel Mcleod about the state of the team:
The Medium: What was the case for last week’s game against UTSG Red?
Solari: “Well we beat Red first set but just fell apart mentally afterwards. Just super inconsistent, we weren’t playing to our fullest potential.”
TM: Why do you think the team hasn’t played to your full potential?
Mcleodi: “Well we only get one practice per week… we would definitely like to see more practices so that we can play better but the league doesn’t allow it.”
TM: How do you compare this season to the last?
Ugobor: “Last year was definitely a better experience, we had more chemistry on the court and made it to the finals. This year we have the talent and height but again just super inconsistent. We’re kind of like drugs, we all do our thing on our own but when we’re put together it’s kind of an experiment.”
TM: How do you feel going into this game knowing you can’t make the playoffs?
Solari: “It’s kind of a load off our minds because we don’t have to play with pressure on ourselves. We want to just play, get our hits in and never mind the score to be honest.”
The UTM Men’s team lacked their ordinary setter, so Edwin Pepelijak filled the role. Although they played solid, UTSC managed to finish the game in four sets, 1-3.
The first set started with high energy and both teams traded points, 5-5. UTM started to gain steam and attacked strong. UTSC pulled the game in their favour after UTM gave points away on questionable double touch calls, 13-15.
UTM’s mistakes piled on and their deficit stretched to five points, 16-21. After a long rally (nine hits), UTM failed to put the ball away and faced set point 20-24. After a questionable net call by the referee, UTSC won the first set, 21-25.
Early in the second set, a strong serve was given by Ugobor, giving UTM a lead, 4-2. More double touch calls were going against the favour of UTM and stunted the pace of the set, 6-6. UTM gained steam off of their play above the net and forced UTSC to take a timeout, 12-8.
Out of the timeout their momentum continued, leading to a nice set from Pepelijak to Solari. A huge block by Mcleod stretched the UTM lead to seven points, 16-9. Ugobor continued the onslaught with an attack from the back row, 19-12. UTSC closed the gap and made the second set tight, 22-22. UTM clinched two points to give themselves set point, 24-22. Mcleod finished the set strong with a spike down the right line, 25-23, handing UTM their first win of the day.
UTSC came out of the set break determined to win another game, going on a run using quicks to secure points, 1-9. UTM stayed determined to play out the third set and played point for point to get into a five-point margin, 9-14. Both teams played with an edge, trading points for the whole set, 20-23. UTSC give themselves a set point by using their quickness again, 20-24. Although refusing the set point twice, UTM lost on another double touch call, 22-25.
The beginning to the fourth set looked similar to the third as UTSC pulled ahead 1-6, forcing a timeout by UTM. The men recuperated out of the timeout and got themselves within two points, 4-6.
Both teams kept it tight and attacked strong. UTSC went on another streak and started to close the game out, 12-19. UTM kept their composure facing a big deficit, and a big hit from Ugobor sent the game within two points again, 19-21. However, UTSC went on a four-point run and closed the game out, 19-25.
The UTM Men’s Volleyball team failed to get their second win of the season but showed a lot of quality and talent above the net. Although their regular setter was out, the team pushed the match to four sets and kept every set close. Solari, Ugobor, and Mcleod spoke after the game:
TM: There were a lot of questionable calls: did you agree with the referee’s decisions? Were they getting to your heads?
Solari: “No! Lots of double touches this game, and some double touches happened that weren’t called, and some that shouldn’t have been called. It was really inconsistent refereeing. We didn’t let the calls get to us though. We can’t let each point affect us.”
TM: Do you think you guys managed well, not having your regular setter?
Mcleod: “Yeah, Edwin did very well considering it was his first time setting. He made some good decisions and didn’t make too many mistakes.”
TM: What was the mindset after winning the second set? Could this have been a win on another day?
Solari: “After winning the second set, we were just thinking we got to keep up that type play. On our day we could’ve won. Today the passes could have been more on target, but still there wasn’t a lot of pressure this game and nobody was negative which helped.”