Recap by Aideena Wickstrom
Etobicoke, ON: On February 2nd, two nationally ranked teams battled head to head in an intense four set match. The Humber Hawks (4th, CCAA) travelled to London, ON, to be welcomed by the reigning Fanshawe Falcons. (1st, CCAA)
The Hawks had a slow start in the opening set against the Falcons. Making many minor mistakes, Fanshawe was given an early opportunity towards the lead. After missing crucial serves and swings, Coach Wayne Wilkins called a timeout for his Hawks at 2-10. As Humber seemed unable to adjust to their settings in the gym, Fanshawe began to slip away with a 5-16 lead. The Hawks began to crumble under pressure as they were only able to earn a point at a time. Humber was unable to catch up as the first set was finalized at 14-25.
The second set brought new energy from the Hawks men's volleyball team, as they were able to play up to Fanshawe's level. Leading the Falcons by only a point, the Hawks worked hard to fly higher than their opponents. Rafael Hilario nailed down a right slide kill, as the Hawks continued to hold the lead. By 13-8, Fanshawe's coach needed to call a timeout, in hopes they could regain the lead. This prevailed successful, as both teams were soon tied up at 19-19. Fighting to take a set off of the no. 1 ranked team in the country, the Hawks refused to let up on their defence. As the teams battled hard, the score was soon 24-24. This intensity did not effect left side Rrezart Sadiku though, as he nailed down a kill to take the crucial victory at 26-24.
The third set brought a lot of uncertainty between both teams, as the lead was often shifted back and forth. Staying neck to neck all the way up to 15-15, neither coach felt the need to call a timeout. Rafael Hilario and Rrezart Sadiku continued to reign during offence, as they continued to rake up kills against the Falcons. Still tied up, neither team was able to pull away from one another. This continued all the way up until 20-20, when Fanshawe began to serve aggressively and place Humber in a bad returning position. Landing on the wrong side of every rally, the previous tied up score soon became an intense 21-24. Calling the first time out of the set, Humber hoped to regain their wits and end Fanshawe's serving run. The set was finalized as Humber attempted to swing aggressively, but was shut down by Fanshawe's middle. The score 21-25.
The fourth set mimicked the third as both teams competed point by point. John Obi earned Humber's first point of the set with a magnetic kill which hyped up the Hawk bench. This hype was short lived though, as minor errors soon brought Humber into a three point hole. Despite strong kills by Rrezart Sadiku and Jaskarn Kalsi, the Hawks remained trailing behind the Falcons. Commanding a four point serving run with an ace, Rrezart Sadiku helped to keep the Hawks at the Falcons pace. As the set crept closer to the final points, both teams stayed within a point of one another. The gym was ringing with cheers as Fanshawe called a timeout at 23-24, in order to stop the Hawks from receiving another point and tying the score. This worked for Fanshawe, as both teams returned to the court and the Falcons nailed down the final point without Humber being able to return it. The final score was 25-23.
After a nail biting four sets against the best ranked team in the country, the Hawks came just short of the victory. John Obi led the Hawks with 10 kills, 3 blocks and 1 ace, while Kamyn Wilkins followed directly behind, with 9 kills and 4 digs.
Next week, on February 6th, the Hawks will host the Niagara Knights in what will be their last home game of the 2018/19 season. Full preview to come.