On March 4, the Varsity Blues men’s volleyball team lost to the Windsor Lancers 3–1 in the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) semifinals in Windsor.
In the regular season, the two games between the Blues and Lancers were tight affairs, with each team narrowly winning one game apiece. This game was no different, with both sides battling back and forth. Yet, it was a strong defensive showing from the Lancers, who had 12 total blocks compared to the Blues’ two, which ultimately gave Windsor the advantage.
The Blues led throughout the first set, starting strong with four unanswered points. The Lancers clawed back, reducing the deficit to one point. Subsequent kills from hitters Evan Falardeau and Mitchell Neuert and a service ace from setter Davis Young restored the Blues’ four point lead.
The Blues would maintain that lead throughout the set, but the Lancers would tie the game 21–21 after an attacking error from Falardeau. To close the set, the Blues and Lancers traded points and a kill from Falardeau helped the Blues reach set point. While the Lancers recovered to take the lead 25–24, Falardeau ensured the Blues took the first set with three straight kills. Falardeau finished the set with a team high of nine kills.
FALARDEAU WITH THE SPIKE TO WIN THE FIRST SET
— The Varsity Sports (@uoft_TV_sports) March 5, 2023
The second set began in a similar fashion, with the Blues taking a 5–0 lead and forcing an early Lancers timeout. Yet, the script flipped completely, as the Lancers dominated the rest of the set. An attacking error from Neuert gave Windsor their first lead, 11–10, and soon forced a Blues timeout. The Lancers continued to dominate, expanding their lead and taking the second set 25–16. The game was now tied 1–1.
Relative to the previous sets, the third set began as a tight affair, with the Blues and Lancers trading points. Nevertheless, momentum clearly remained with Windsor, who pulled away, taking a 9–5 lead and forcing a Blues timeout. The Blues fought back and tied the game 12–12, and a Lancers attacking error from Luca Nastase gave the Blues the lead. Yet, the Lancers tied the game immediately, and ultimately took the third set at 25–20.
The Blues later grabbed the first point for the fourth set in a row, but the Lancers dominated early, taking a 7–3 lead and forcing a Blues timeout. The Lancers’ dominance continued throughout the set. As Windsor led 11–5, Varsity Blues Head Coach John Barrett made the bold decision to call their second — and final — timeout of the set soon after. The Blues tried to fight back, but the Lancers never lost their nerve. As a hit from outside hitter Hunter Arulpragasam was blocked by hitters Luca Nastase and Anthony Ivanovski, the Lancers won the set 25–14 and eliminated the Blues. Ivanovski and Nastase both finished the game with five blocks each.
While the Blues will not play in the Forsyth Cup final, they will play in the bronze-medal match against the York Lions. The date, time, and location of the game have not yet been confirmed. Victory against the Lions will secure qualification for the men’s volleyball U SPORTS Championship, set to take place in Hamilton between March 17–19.