ETOBICOKE, ON: The Humber Hawks men's volleyball team started a new season, complete with new faces and new uniforms. And, what better way to start anew than with a victory. The Hawks outlasted the Redeemer Royals in five ping-pong like sets, winning 3-2 (25-22, 19-25, 25-15, 26-28, 16-14).
In front of a large and boisterous opening night crowd, the home squad came out slow, but that was sure to change as the set played on. Although being down at the 10 and 15 point marks, it was the Hawks that drew to within a single point of the first set win with a 24-21 lead. Alex Bowden not only took over the first set in driving the Hawks into the lead, he finished it with his fourth kill of the set.
One would think the fantastic finish to the first set would spur the Hawks on, but that did not come to pass as the visiting Royals jumped to a quick 3-0 lead. Redeemer continued to build on a number of Hawk miscues and at 8-3 were on their way to pulling away completely. Although the home side ran off a few, it was still an error-free Royals squad that was well on their way to evening up the match at 1-1.
The Royals started with the same vim and vigor they displayed in the second set in running out to a big six-point lead before the ten point mark. Head Coach Wayne Wilkins questioned a call just seconds later and saw it overturned in the Hawks favour, producing a run of five points. The Royals sped back out to a three-point lead at 12-9, and that is when the set turned again, as Humber ran off the next twelve points to lead 21-12. With the set now out of hand, the Hawks cruised to the set win and lay just a set away from an opening match win.
The best way to describe the fourth set was it resembled a ping-pong match, with one team going up one and then seeing the other tie it. It was not until the 20th point mark that Redeemer changed the game and held a 20-18 lead. Back to back errors by the Royals let Humber back in, tying it at twenty. The Hawks then scored another, forcing a Redeemer time-out. Once again the ping-pong balls came into play, this time in the way of back to back service errors and a hitting error by the Hawks to allow the Royals to be a single point away from taking the set.
Redeemer failed on two set point rallies, and then the Hawks saw themselves a point away from winning the set and the match. And, as the set continued to play out, it was two Humber errors that pushed the visitors to an exciting extra point victory and force a fifth and deciding set.
The fifth set was all Royals early, running out to yet another lead in the set. The Hawks continued to battle back, bringing it even at four, before falling behind three once again. Prior to the eight-point mark, the Hawks brought it to 7-6, thus forcing a Redeemer time-out. At the eight-point mark, it was Redeemer once again with a multiple point lead, with the scoreboard reading 8-6. A missed serve and a lift vaulted Humber back into a tie at nine. The Hawks fell behind again by two, then went on another amazing run and found themselves with a 13-11 lead. After allowing the Redeemer squad to tie it once again, this time at 14, the Hawks took the next two to close out the set and match.
Veteran Clayton Blanchette (17 kills, 2 service aces, 1 block) and freshman Alex Bowden (11 kills, 1 service ace, 3 blocks) were the night's best ball strikers and top scorers, almost matching each other kill for kill. In fact, it was a kill by Blanchette that sent the Hawk Family home happy.