ETOBICOKE, Ont –- The Niagara Knights (12-6, 4th West) closed out day one at the OCAA Men’s Volleyball Championship with a five-set victory over the No.11 Georgian Grizzlies (16-2, 1st East), 25-21, 18-25, 17-25, 25-21, and 15-8 at the North Campus Gym, Thursday night.
The first set started out with neither team able to establish any runs together. The Knights were finally able to break things open midway through the set, stringing together four straight points with Micah Nieuwets picking up two big kills. That run would prove to be the difference as both teams would again trade points, leading to Niagara taking a tight opening set 25-21.
Things played out the same to begin the second frame until two big blocks by Georgian players seemed to spark the Grizzlies. They followed that up with four straight points giving them a 17-11 lead. Niagara failed to close the gap in time and dropped the second set 25-18. Eric Perau led the way for the Grizzlies in the second, with five points on four kills and a block.
The Grizzlies seemed to carry the momentum into the third set scoring the first three points of the Frame. Georgian continued their strong play and after Liam Gray served up back to back aces pushing the lead to 15-10, Niagara was forced to take a timeout. Perau capped off the set with three straight kills, as the Knights were again unable to claw their way back and dropped the third set, 25-17.
Niagara came out hot to start the fourth set taking an early 10-7 lead putting Georgian in a hole. The Grizzlies struggled to put together much momentum in the frame, unable to string together a run greater than two. Jaydon Milne and Elijah Bugiardini took over for the Knights late in the set, scoring six of the teams final seven points, as Niagara took the fourth set 25-21, forcing a fifth and final set.
It was the Knights again who took control early grabbing hold of the lead and never letting it go. Georgian was forced to call a timeout just after team’s switched sides as they trailed Niagara 10-6. The Knights closed out the match on a 5-2 run with Kyle Thiessen picking up his teams final three points as Niagara pulled out the fifth set 15-8 winning a thriller.
Fourth-year setter Liam Gray was named the player of the game for the Grizzlies, finishing with 34 assists and 11 points on three kills, four aces, and four blocks.
Fifth-year setter Benjamin Filmore was named the player of the game for the Knights, as he picked up 34 assists and two points, coming off a kill and a block.
Niagara will now face the host, No. 5 Humber in the second semifinal Friday night at 8 p.m.