Despite the addition of some new first-year starters, the Brock men’s volleyball team dropped their home opener on Friday night. After the women’s team beat the Gryphons in the first game of the night, the men were looking for the same result. Unfortunately, the Badgers couldn’t follow up the performance that the women’s team had, losing their season opener by a score of 3-1.
Much like the women’s game, the home crowd was loud and ready to cheer on the men, who are just in their second season. Head coach Doug Hanes noted how the fans made the event a success, despite the result.
“We had great support from the community, from the students. We had a full house, it was a great event, we had ten alumni come from far away to support them as well. It was nice to have some of those older guys come back and be recognized too.”
Brock got off to a slow start in the first set and could not find a way to battle back. They found themselves on the wrong end of a lot of long rallies in the set, deflating not only the players but the home crowd as well. Instead of these points becoming a turning point and a chance to swing momentum, the Badgers found themselves trying to regroup.
The second set went much better for the Badgers, putting together an early 11-8 lead and carrying that momentum throughout the rest of the set. Brock had built a 22-18 lead, forcing Guelph to take a timeout. Coming back from that, the Gryphons answered with 2 points and leading to Hanes taking a timeout to get his team back on track and secure the win. The Badgers took the second set 25-23 and tied up the match.
The third and fourth sets went almost exactly the same, which was bad news for the Badgers. Despite being close in both sets, Guelph pulled away at the end of each, resulting in 25-21 and 25-19 wins to come away with a 3-1 victory.
“We just gave them a lot of points in the beginning, but we settled down and played well in the second set. Then in the third and fourth sets the passing just let us down, and because we didn’t pass the ball well we became predictable.”
The Badgers looked shaky at times, but Hanes acknowledged that there are going to be some growing pains with a young program and some young players.
“Our guys are young, and that’s what you get sometimes with nerves. We’ll just try to do well, it’s just the product of the situation with such a young team. But these guys will only get better as they get bigger and older.”
Two players that Hanes was referencing to are Logan House and Peter Schnabel, both first year students are starters on the team. Schnabel was scoring almost at will until the end of the game, when Guelph finally started to key on him. By the end, he finished with thirteen kills. While he is in his first year, he has plenty of experience playing at a high level with the German U19 National team prior to coming to Brock. As for House, he finished his first OUA game with fourteen kills, two assists and eight digs.
Despite being in just their second season, Hanes feels that the team is just a player or two away from being able to compete with the top teams in the province.
“We’re on course as far as the team is concerned. Everybody else had a head start, teams like McMaster that are a lot of fifth year guys. The good teams are built on their older players, that’s just the way it is. As we get older and add a few more pieces we’ll be fine, we’re an exciting group to watch, we can play really well at times and we have some very good athletes.”
As for their expectations this season, Hanes said that the goal right now is to simply play as well as they can and see where they end up at the end of the season. It’s a learning experience for many of these players, but one that will pay off with time.
The Badgers continue their season on the road next weekend, facing Western and Windsor before returning home to face McMaster on November 19.