As the holiday break approaches, Megan Matsuda plays prognosticator, re-evaluating the Rams’ goals and asking the question of where the team is headed in the new year after a middling first half of their volleyball season.
[T]he Ryerson men’s volleyball team begins each practice with a surge of energy. There is intense diving for the ball and tons of motivational cheering, all proving the players’ unmistakable dedication to their sport. Even playing amongst each other, there is a strong sense of competition. Players hide their disappointment as they dive and miss, and grin as a hard spike makes its way just inside the line. It is easy to see that the team has great chemistry and confidence, and as a young team, this will only grow with time.
As November rolls to a close, the mid-season is a time for many sports teams to re-evaluate and develop new goals for the year. The half-way point of the Rams season offers a chance to evaluate a team with a conference record of five wins and four losses, a team which head coach, Mirek Porosa, believes can improve even more this year.
“I worked for two years building this team, and I think we’re getting to the point where we could play any top 10 team in Canada,” Porosa says.
Roger Marszalek, the assistant coach, believes the team can win five more games in the semester. This would put their overall record to about .500, which would be more than enough to make the playoffs.
“The players are feeling very confident and upbeat. I remember at this point last season we had lost seven games in a row. This year, we came out on the winning end of a couple of close games. We also beat our rivals from York pretty convincingly, a team that we haven’t beat in a few years,” Marszalek says.
The most dramatic part of the Rams’ season so far has seemed to be the eligibility of Robert Wojcik. A transfer from the University of Alberta, the initial goal was to have Wojcik play since day one, but after missing the first few games, he was finally granted eligibility. Since then, he has made a major impact on the team, and is currently second in points per game within the OUA league.
“It is a huge boost of confidence of me, but I am not one who looks at stats. A win takes the entire team, and that’s what matters to me,” Wojcik says.
For Porosa, it was all about finding the right people with a potential to be secure in their positions, but also about keeping the main players healthy and uninjured. As many of the team members struggle to balance a full school schedule with up to two practices a day and two games a week, mental and physical health can be drained. The men’s team actually competes every year to be the team with the highest average GPA, and in the last few semesters, they have consistently been the top male sports team in terms of academics.
After their exams, the team will be travelling to Cuba for a mid-season training camp. There, they will train indoors, on the beach, and on grass to get in shape and gain an edge against their opponents. The final steps will be to have re-evaluation sessions, where areas like team defence will be examined.
Starting in January, the team will have nine games to achieve their biggest objective of making the playoffs.
Game by game, the road to the championship will be tough for Ryerson. They will need to go through so-far undefeated McMaster and 7 -1 Waterloo, the top two teams going into the new year. While the championship is not far off their minds, the Rams need to make the playoffs first.
“Our attitude is one game at a time,” says Luka Milosevic.