The Brock Badgers men’s volleyball team started off the new year with an exhibition game against the top team in all of Canada, the Trinity Western Spartans. As one could imagine, the Badgers — who have had an up and down season — were no match for the country’s top program, dropping the game in three straight sets.
“Hosting one of the, if not the, top teams in North America was a beneficial experience for the Niagara community, our athletes and our program as a whole,” said Badgers’ head coach Matt Ragogna. “It was a big stepping stone to host such a successful program as it gave us a chance to compete at a high level of play and start the second half of the season with the bar high. For our athletes, the chance to compete in such a match gave us quality touches and the ability to see that we could compete in stretches.”
With the Spartans resting many of their starters for tougher games in the near future (most notably the McMaster Marauders who beat the Spartans in back-to-back games the following two days), the Badgers were able to keep the score closer than many would think. They dropped the first and second sets by scores of 20-25 and 19-25, while nearly winning the third set but ultimately falling 23-25.
The month-long layoff clearly factored into the team’s play, as they seemed quite rusty, making many errors and even having one service attempt go underneath the net. The Badgers play was a great reminder as to why teams play exhibition games before the season and meaningful games start back up.
“Obviously exhibition over the break is important for any program,” said Ragogna.
The Badgers finished off the first half with a two-game winning streak and currently hold a playoff spot, sitting tied for third in the OUA West with the Western Mustangs behind the Guelph Gryphons and the aforementioned Marauders.
“Looking ahead to the second half we have a ton of in-division games that will all be crucial to staying in a playoff spot,” said Ragogna. “We have to continuously come out and compete at our level every match and it comes with playing tight games consistently over time. For the first time in our program returning since 2016, we sit in playoff contention and are in a position to fight for a playoff spot, which is our goal for the second half.” The Badgers will face off this Thursday at 6:00 p.m. in the Bob Davis Gym against the Daemen College Wildcats from Amherst, New York for one last exhibition, to rid themselves of their jitters before the regular season starts back up.
“Another battle that should have us ready for the second half of the season,” said Ragogna.
The Badgers (4-5) will start the second half of the season on January. 17 against the last place Trent Excalibur (0-7) at 8:00 p.m. in the Bob Davis Gym.