Gryphon volleyball men sweep by Toronto
Rob Massey, Guelph Sports Journal
GUELPH – The Guelph Gryphons swept the Toronto Varsity Blues aside to keep their aim solely on claiming a playoff berth in the OUA men’s volleyball league Friday night at the Guelph Gryphons Athletics Centre.
The Gryphs improved to 6-8 with their 3-0 victory over the Varsity Blues, who are also at 6-8.
Guelph and the Waterloo Warriors are fighting for the fourth and final playoff berth in the West. The Warriors are at 6-7 and have a game in hand.
“It looked really, really good tonight,” Gryphon coach Cal Wigston said. “Zach Newman put us on his back and took us home. He was awesome and Sam Nothnagel as well. Five kills and no errors, he was a beast.”
The win was the second in three matches for the Gryphs as it followed a split with Waterloo, each team winning at home.
“There’s something about this building,” Wigston said. “We’re playing really well in here.”
“I feel like we actually came to play this weekend,” Nothnagel said. “Last weekend really, really kicked us where it hurt (with the loss at Waterloo) and we really had to bounce back and I feel like the boys really responded well. We’ve been practising hard all week and we’ve done what we had to do. We came out and played and the results came.”
The Gryphs defeated Toronto 25-20, 25-21, 25-20.
Newman had 12 kills, two aces and a block while Ken Kerr had seven kills, an ace, a dig and two blocks. Zarko Ubiparip had six kills, an ace, four digs and a block and Nothnagel had five kills, an ace, a dig and three blocks. Josh Green had five kills, an ace, 10 digs and a block and Sam Kloke had a kill, an ace, nine digs, a block and 28 assists.
Alex Barnes had 15 kills, two aces, five digs and a block for Toronto while Ken Dobson had nine kills, an ace and two digs and Ryan Smith had six kills, seven digs and a block.
The Gryphs have had a bit of an up-and-down season. They had two wins in their first three league matches, all played without Kerr, an all-Canadian last season, who was injured in preseason play.
“We really came together, especially when Kenny went down,” Nothnagel said. “It was a huge shock to us. That’s a huge part of our offence gone, but I feel like we really bounced back and our left side really started connecting and our right side, as we saw today, Newman really, absolutely killed them. I feel like we all came together and we did what we needed to do. At times we fell and we lost games we should’ve won, but at the end of the day, we’re still in with a running chance.”
“We’re still not there yet,” Wigston said. “We need to get at least two more wins and get a little bit of help. If we win three games, we should be good. It’s still hanging in the balance. It’s not been a great season. When your all-Canadian (Kerr) has been out half the year it’s tough to do, but we weathered the storm and we did well. We control our own destiny.”
The Gryphs have three games to play. They’re to host the Trent Excalibur (0-13) Saturday and then get a week away from league matches as they prepare to finish league play with a pair of road games. They’re to play the Western Mustangs (11-2) at London Feb. 23 and the Windsor Lancers (9-5) at Windsor Feb. 25 to complete their regular season. Top four in each division qualify for the playoffs.
“It’s tough. It was never going to be easy, but if we play like we did tonight, we should give it a real good crack,” Nothnagel said. “If we play like that, we shouldn’t fall short, but it’s certainly not going to be an easy one, that’s for sure.”