Saturday, February 10th saw the Niagara Knights men’s volleyball program close out their 2017-18 regular season with an impressive 3-1 victory over the Redeemer Royals (13-5, 3rd OCAA West). The season series between the two west division rivals was split with each program seeing victory on the road. The win puts the Knights at 10-8, locking them into 4th spot in the OCAA West Division standings.
All the pressure was on Niagara heading into Saturday’s game against Redeemer. A win meant the Knights hosted their OCAA crossover at home, while a loss would see the Knights compete in their crossover on the road. Positioning in the west division also have serious implications for the Knights if they were to win their crossover and compete in the OCAA Championships.
Niagara opened Saturday night with an impressive 25-18 first set victory, putting constant pressure on the Royals’ defense. In the second set, the Knights would find themselves trailing 19-16 with all them momentum going Redeemer’s way. It wasn’t until Knights’ 3rd year middle Tristan Swinden (Whitby, Ont.) led his program to a 9 point rally, sealing the second set victory 25-19.
Niagara would drop the 3rd set 20-25, but the program would rally back from the loss and close out the fourth set 25-23.
“Crucial win for us tonight,” said Knights head coach Nathan Groenveld. “The guys needed a win tonight and they delivered. We must now set our sights on preparing for our crossover game Sunday against whoever it may be.”
Pacing the Knights offensively was their 1st and 2nd year outside hitters Elijah Bugiardini (Hamilton, Ont.) and Mitch Sawatsky (St. Catharines, Ont.) who were tied with a team high 9 kills.
Redeemer’s offence was led by their outside hitter Brady De Boer with 10 kills.
The Knights now await their OCAA East Division crossover opponent for Sunday, February 18th at the Welland Campus Athletic Centre. The winner clinches a birth to this year’s OCAA Championships hosted by Georgian College located in Barrie, Ont.