On Thursday, November 2nd, the Welland Campus Athletic Centre played host to the third annual Blue and White Home Opener that saw the gym packed with 650 roaring spectators. Unfortunately, the electricity in the building wasn't enough for the Niagara Knights (2-1, 3rd OCAA West), who were defeated by the Mohawk Mountaineers (1-2, 7th OCAA West) 3 sets to 1.
The first set between the two west division programs was a hard fought contest that saw both Niagara and Mohawk trade leads late into the set. The Knights controlled the tempo of the set staying on the aggressive on the attack from the baseline, but just gave Mohawk too many opportunities to stay in the fight. Ultimately this hurt the Knights, as the Mountaineers would go on to win the set 29-26.
Mohawk put the pressure on Niagara early in the second set with strong serving from all 6 Mountaineers on the floor. The Knights eventually settled in, but the overbearing Mohawk attack deemed too much for them get back into the set.
During the 3rd and 4th sets, head coach Nathan Groenveld stated his disappointment with the result of the match, but was impressed with how his program responded being down 0-2. "I really liked our response in the 3rd, especially when Mohawk made it tight and we needed extra points to close it out. In the 4th we looked tight again and it showed in the score. Overall we had trouble scoring offensively, which put a lot of pressure on our block and I don't think we are a good enough blocking team yet."
Groenveld was also impressed by the performances of 1st year outside hitter Kyle Thiessen (St. Catharines, Ont.) and 3rd year setter Aiden Atkinson (Ingersoll, Ont.). "I thought Kyle Thiessen was really good for us tonight and so was Aidan Atkinson. I thought Aidan gave us some great opportunities to score offensively and for a bunch of reasons we couldn't capitalize. Kyle was a consistent scorer for us all night and served really well." Thiessen led the Knights offensively with 13 kills.
The Knights will be back in action when the travel to Kitchener, Ont. to face off against the Conestoga Condors Thursday, November 9th at 8pm.