By Bobby Mihalik
ETOBICOKE, Ont -- Down two sets to none and with their six-game win streak in jeopardy, the Humber Hawks men's volleyball team (8-2, 3rd West) overcame a resilient St. Clair Saints team (6-5, 4th West) Sunday afternoon, winning in five nail-biting sets (20-25, 23-25, 25-21, 25-23, 16-14).
The Hawks and Saints went back and forth to start the first set, trading points before the Saints gradually built up a lead. The Hawks chipped away at the deficit, tying the game at 17 apiece but never pulling ahead. The Saints would restore their lead with four straight points and ultimately win the first set 25-20.
Both the Saints and the Hawks had huge rallies to highlight the second set. The Hawks began by taking their first lead of the match, pulling ahead 6-2 with a four-point streak led by Andrew Blakey. However, the Hawks' offence stalled, while the Saints' offence erupted. Going on several multi-point rallies, the Saints surged past the Hawks to take an 18-9 lead. The momentum then flipped completely as the Hawk's erased their deficit, powered by six straight points from Kamyn Wilkins's serving, tying the game 23-23. The astonishing comeback fell short, however, with the Saints scoring twice and taking the set 25-23.
Building on their offensive explosion, Humber came to life in the third and fourth sets. Overcoming two early deficits, the Hawks rode two four-point rallies to take a 15-9 lead. The Saints would push back, but thanks to strong serving efforts from Clayton Blanchette, the Hawks ultimately won the third set 25-21. The fourth set saw multiple lead changes as the Saints fought to finish off the Hawks. Tied 20-20 late in the set, a Hawks rally led by Quinton Hudgins claimed it for Humber, forcing a fifth and final set with a 25-23 win.
Seeking to complete their comeback, the Hawks, led by Blanchette, Blakey, Wilkins, Dylan Devecseri, took control of the fifth set, putting themselves ahead 14-9. Only a point away from victory, the Hawks were faced with a late surge from St. Clair that tied the game at 14 apiece. With the Humber fans ready to leap out of their seats, the Hawks came back and finished off their opponents on an Alex Bowden serving ace to win the set 16-14, claiming victory.
Blanchette led the Hawks with 21 points (19 kills, one serving ace, one block). Devecseri (15 kills, one serving ace) and Wilkins (nine kills, two serving aces) had 16 and 11 points, respectively.
Blakey, who was named the Hawks Nation Player of the Game, had 13 points (seven kills, two serving aces, four blocks).
Jared Niziolek led the St. Clair Saints with 24 points (19 kills, three serving aces, two blocks).
With the comeback win, the Hawks improve to 8-2 on the season and increase their win streak to seven games. The Saints fall to 6-5 with the loss.
Next up for the Hawks is a road matchup against the Niagara Knights (6-4, 5th West), scheduled to start at 8:00 pm Thursday evening.