The Varsity Blues men’s volleyball team welcomed the Royal Military College Paladins to the Goldring Centre on January 26. Coming off a two-game losing streak and with an overall record of six games lost and six games won this season, the Blues needed a positive result. 

And they got it — sweeping the Paladins 3–0. In fact, the Blues have never lost a match against the Paladins. This win moved them into the seventh position of the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) standings.  

What happened 

It was a slow-paced and easy game for the Blues, who swept the victory in one hour and 15 minutes. 

The first set commenced with one point to each side due to service errors. Shortly after, the Blues scored six points in a row, putting Toronto in the lead at 9–3. The offense was strategically successful from the left side of the court, with contributions to the score from Blues outside hitters Connor Vanderkuip close to the net and Jack Li. It was Li who brought the Blues to their first set point when the game was 24–20 — and without hesitation — it was closed 25–20, thanks to a kill from fellow outside hitter Joshua Chapman. 

Going into the second set, the first point for the Blues came from a service error again, but it was from the Paladins this time. It was an extremely slow set, and although the whole arena could hear the Blues talking on the court, the score showed a disconnection within the lines when the Paladins took the only lead they had in the game at 5–4. Both teams closely followed the score, hitting ties at 5–5, 6–6, 8–8, 9–9, and lastly at 12–12. 

The Paladins requested a time-out when the game was 17–14, the Blues in the lead. At that point, half of the Paladins’ points came from the Blues, making eight errors. The break didn’t lead to any changes, including when Blues setter Bruce Su entered to serve and made a service error. However, the Blues took off on the scoreboard 23–20, forcing Paladins’ coach to request a second time out, giving air to the Blues — who closed the set 25–21, thanks to a kill from Li — connecting with the ball from the left side of the court. 

The third and final set began with the Blues taking a solid 4–0 advantage. A well-deserved service ace came from Vanderkuip and stretched their lead to 11–7. Another Blues player who performed well was middle hitter Lukas Humle, who assisted Vanderkuip when he put the game 13–8 for the Blues. 

The first big difference in the score was six points on this set, and it was brought by an ace from Li when the score was 16–10. When the game was 18–13, Paladins setter Cedric Beaulieu entered the court and scored two points in a row, forcing the Blues to request a time-out. 

The break helped the Blues to re-organize and get the game straight. With six points in a row, the game saw the Blues take a big nine-point lead and place them at set point, 24–15. The match point came from a service error from the Paladins, and the set was closed at 25–16, giving a 3–0 victory to the Blues. 

What’s next 

The Blues played the second game of this weekend’s series against the Paladins the next day, defeating the Paladins 3–1. The Blues are looking to extend their two-game win streak and continue working towards the OUA playoffs, which will start in late February.