Saturday, November 18th saw the Niagara Knights men's volleyball program (4-1, 4th OCAA West) earn their second consecutive victory after defeating the St. Clair Saints (3-3, 5th OCAA West) in a 5 set thriller 3-2. The match between the two west divisional rivals did not disappoint, as both programs battled hard to keep themselves in position to win the game.
The Knights opened the match with impressive first and second set victories, both of which were extremely competitive (25-23, 33-31). The Knights headed into the 3rd set ready to close the game, however St. Clair wasn't ready to let the Knights take the win that easily.
The St. Clair offence, led by outside hitters Jared Niziolek (Windsor, Ont.) and Manik Jandoria (Windsor, Ont.), erupted in the third and fourth sets, taking them 25-20 and 25-14. The Knights needed to figure out a way to control the tireless Saints' attack as they seemed to be on the ropes heading into the final set.
In the 5th set, the Knights went back to being systematic and played to their strengths. Knights' 4th year setter Ben Fillmore (Port Dover, Ont.) once again ran a great offense and kept the program composed when St Clair went out their run. Fillmore's composer was a huge factor in winning the 5th set.
Leading the Knights offensively was 1st year outside hitter Jaydon Milne (Toronto, Ont.) who finished with 17 kills, 3 service aces and 13 digs on the night. The St. Francis Liberman graduate has been fantastic in his first season with the Knights, currently averaging 3.4 points per set. The Toronto, Ontario native has developed into a crucial part of the Knights' offence this season, and will continue to be relied upon if his program hopes to be successful.
"A win against a team that we are fighting for position within the tough OCAA West standings, is always a good thing" said Knights' head coach Nathan Groenveld. "I thought we battled really well all night, especially in the first 2 winning tight sets and then again in the 5th when we almost let the match go in the 3/4th. I thought we showed glimpses of awesome play and glimpses of how young and inexperienced we are. I thought last night we started to figure out our block and defense which is going to be a key for us going forward. We will need to keep figuring out our serving as we have 24 errors and only 5 aces to show for it."
The Knights will be back in action when they travel to Toronto, Ont. Wednesday, November 22nd to face off against the Humber Hawks (4-2, 3rd OCAA West). Tip-off is scheduled for 8pm.