By: Giulia Barile
After being bumped out of the top ten national rankings just a few weeks ago, the Lancers men’s volleyball team is confident and ready to make an impact moving into the second half of the season.
The Lancers beat the visiting Queen’s University Gaels on November 25 to enter the holiday break on a winning note. They currently sit in third place in the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) West Division standings with a 5-2 record.
Ranked as high as fourth in the country earlier in the season, the Lancers have fallen out of the rankings due to their two losses. However, as captain John Moate explains, the rankings are not something the team is concerned about.
“The ranking isn’t really important to us,” Moate said. “We try not to pay attention to it as sometimes it just adds pressure. Although, it was nice to be included in it the first couple weeks we are not too worried about getting back into it.”
As they take a look back at the first half of the season and analyze how the team has performed, head coach James Gravelle could not be more pleased with how things have gone.
“The first half has gone really well,” Gravelle said. “The guys are exceeding the expectations set by themselves and the coaching staff.”
The Lancers now have a well-deserved break over the holidays. Their next game will be Friday, January 12 on the road against the Toronto Varsity Blues. They will use this time off to recover from a demanding first half of the season, but also continue to practice so they remain sharp.
“They do need a break, but some players who have not played as much will take this time and work hard to improve to try and get on the floor,” Gravelle explained.
Even though things are going smoothly, the team knows there is still a lot of volleyball left to be played and they cannot take their foot off the gas pedal.
In such a competitive league, any team can win on any given night. There is still a lot of work to be done in order to be a championship caliber team, and captain Moate knows that.
“I think it’s important for me to keep our heads in check as we still have a lot of work to do to get to a top spot in our league. We can’t get too comfortable in the position that we’re in right now,” Moate said.
The break also comes at a perfect time, as the athletes will be able to study for their upcoming final exams. After that, they will be able to spend some quality time with their family and go home if they are from out of town. This will mentally benefit them moving forward.
Just as the team made goals and expectations prior to the season, they will do the same at the midway point during this break. Third-year starter, Roland Bouchard, is aiming high for the second half of the season and knows this team is capable of making a run for the title.
“I expect us to pick up where we left off. We prepare the same for every team we face, and have the same mentality,” Bouchard said. “Our biggest focus is getting out of our conference in the top 4 making it to playoffs, and taking it from there.”
Regardless of their ranking, this team is winning and that is all that matters. There is a sense that this is a special group within the locker room and the entire Lancer community is excited to watch them the rest of the way.
“We have what it takes,” coach Gravelle said.
So now the stage is “set.” The Lancers know they cannot stop at halftime. They need to concentrate on winning the second half. It is time to put the work in over the break because champions are made when no one is watching.
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