Blues exploit weaknesses in North Toronto to take third set
A third-set surge by UTS Blues had North Toronto trying to plug the holes in their ship on April 14.
Their coed volleyball season in full swing, the Norsemen were looking to rebound from a 3-1 loss to Danforth Redhawks on April 12.
Although North Toronto powered their way through the first two sets, 25-17, 25-21 on the strength of Zoe Starkman’s blocking as well as overkills by Henno Einola and Nathan Ostafichuk, UTS discovered their weakness.
With most of her Norsemen in the backcourt, coach Elizabeth Markovski acknowledged her charges needed to fill the gaps to counter a consistent barrage of short serves.
“One of the things I think all the players need to do whether it’s my team or another team is to be able to adjust — the adjustment to take a couple of steps up,” she said.
In the third set UTS servers Eric Yung and Winnie Zhao combined for nine points to jump out to an 11-3 lead.
North Toronto never quite recovered, striking late on spikes and losing a few services to the net. They lost the third, 25-12.
The sudden burst from UTS was not a surprise to their coach Virginia Ki as she said it’s been a theme during their previous two games against Danforth and Forest Hill.
“I think for UTS we have this funny energy where we sleep off the first two sets and then the third set we come alive as we did with the fourth set,” she said.
Nor did it surprise Markovski.
“We were in the same position with Danforth where we ended up losing that, but we were down two set, and win your third set with a do-or-die attitude and you can surprise the other team,” she said.
Still, Starkman and company kept their heads held high heading into the fourth.
“We regained control but I kind of thought we got out of the mindset,” she said. “I tried to keep it positive.”
That attitude seemed to work as Starkman would serve up six straight points for her squad with the help of a strong net presence by Ostafichuk and setting from Zoya Zeitoune.
When the Norseman reacquired service, Einola powered in four more points in rallies that featured several standout blocks by Starkman.
However, their eventual 23-15 lead would evaporate as Zhao championed a final comeback, bringing her Blues to within one point.
Service went back and forth until the final ball, struck by Ostafichuk, went off Yung. The play marked a 25-23 victory for North Toronto.
It was a great conclusion, especially since former Norsemen captain Stephen Jeffery came back from Queens University to help coach the game.
NTCI’s Ahron Seeman was happy with the 3-1 win offering up these last words:
“Our highs were high and we came back from our lows,” he said.