Recap by Aideena Wickstrom
ANCASTER, ON: The Humber Hawks men's volleyball team fought through a first-set loss and an incredibly boisterous crowd in the "Madhouse in Ancaster" to defeat the Redeemer Royals 3-1 (23-25, 25-19, 27-25, 26-24) in a key West Division match-up.
With the win, the second place Hawks improve to 11-1 on the season, while the Royals drop a couple steps back, and check in at 8-4. The Hawks are closing in on securing a top-two finish in the West, as their closest competitors have four in the loss column.
The beginning of the game introduced the pace for the entirety of the first set. Each team aggressively fought back and forth, trading the lead with one another. The bleachers were shaking as the crowd went wild with each point. It was too loud to even think, and the Hawks began to fall behind due to the pressured environment. Leading the Hawks by only a point at a time, the Redeemer Royals controlled the majority of the set. Backed up by the energetic crowd, the Royals were able to topple the Hawks by two points, finishing the opening set 25-23.
The Hawks started on the right foot in the second set, as they seamlessly brushed the loss in the opening set behind them. Determined to play through the intensive cheering by Redeemer fans, Humber began to lead the set. Redeemer was right behind them though, as each point was won through minute-long rallies. The crowd continued to flood the gym with cheers in an attempt to hype up Redeemer, as they began falling behind in points. This huge effort by the crowd was ineffective though, as Kamyn Wilkins flew in the frontcourt and smashed the ball directly onto his opponent's court. Soon after this magnetic kill, the Royals lost their energy and dropped the set 25-19.
Opening the third, the men's team were playing in complete contrast to their previous set. Starting off slower, it was hard for the Hawks to maintain their energy throughout the match. Soon though, Humber was recharged, and Outside Hitter Kamyn Wilkins shot three kills down the Royals feet. Redeemer answered this though, with numerous kills themselves. There was a steady back and forth as each team traded the lead. This intensity continued for the duration of the set, as both teams played what seemed like their best games yet. Rafael Hilario was a staple in the front row, as he guarded his court through countless kills from the right side. The hype on the Hawk bench continued to elevate the players on the court as the game was reaching its final points. After multiple hard-fought rallies, the Hawks took the third set 27-25.
Miming the previous sets, the fourth entailed both teams playing aggressively and desperately battling for the lead. Rafael Hilario was able to put down almost every ball he received in this set, as he blocked out the crazy crowd and played his game to the basics. The audience was jumping up and down throughout this set, echoing their cheers throughout what seemed like the entirety of the school. But the Hawks were able to tune this out and play their own song to victory. Tied at 22-22, and then 24-24, everyone in the gym was on the edge of their seats. The Hawks were able to pull away from this tie, earning the next two points through hard-fought rallies, and taking the game 26-24.
Overall, the Humber Hawks exhibited an impressive amount of dedication towards winning as the game was long and tiring. Lead scorers in the match were Rafael Hilario with 16 kills and 10 aces, along with Kamyn Wilkins with 8 kills and 2 aces.
Next, the Humber Hawks will take on the Conestoga Condors on January 19th, in Kitchener ON.