An autumn Friday night with delightful hip-hop music warmed the audience for the Varsity Blues men’s volleyball team on November 10 in their home opener against the Western Mustangs. 

The crowd witnessed the Blues’ second game of this Ontario University Association season, where they played an unforgettable match, winning the game 3–1. 

What happened

The first set started slow for the Blues. Thanks to a collective effort, they made a comeback after being down 8–5 a few minutes into the set. Outside hitters Jayden Talsma and Hunter Arulpragasam dominated in the set — both finishing the game with 14 and 16 overall kills. The initial set ended 25–21 for the Blues. 

In the second set, the story was similar to the previous one. Although the Mustangs took the lead early, the Blues won point after point to pass the Mustangs by one and take the lead 10–9. The Blues held the difference until the game was 20–20. Recognizing the change in momentum, Blues veteran head coach John Barrett called a timeout. Yet, soon after, the Mustangs scored four straight points, winning the set 25–21 and tying the match 1–1. 

As the third set kicked off, the volleyball must have known where to land, as the Blues took the lead and didn’t let it go. A service error from the Mustangs, followed by an ace from outside hitter Jack Li, put the Blues up 17–11. Western called a much-needed timeout to calm down the energy of the Blues. But, despite the Mustangs’ efforts, the home team put a foot forward in the score by closing the set 25–22, reclaiming the lead in the game 2–1. 

Right into the fourth set, the Blues started off solid. After the Mustangs scored the first point, the Blues put themselves in the front of the score, and the team kept it so for most of the set, unwilling to receive any more shots. The Mustangs did get dangerously close to catching up to the Blues near the end of the set when the game was tied 20–20. However, there was nothing more they could do, as Toronto won the set 25–22 and ended the game 3–1. 

In a post-game interview with The Varsity, Barrett said he’s looking for improvement. “Playing at home for the first time this year… played on [our] nerves. So we weren’t capable of showing our best level of volleyball,” he admitted. “[Tonight], we’re gonna go rest… and get ready to play without being so nervous.” 

When asked about the team’s expectations for the season, Barrett said he expected the Blues to “compete every single day.”

“We [want to] make the playoffs, and we [want to] make the top three to go to national championships,” he added. 

What’s next 

Both teams played each other again on November 11, but the Blues lost 3–1. Next, the Blues will play back-to-back games against the Nipissing Lakers on November 24 and November 25 at home.