December 29th, 2010
Tait McKenzie Gym, Toronto
Windsor Lancers vs. Budo
With half of the quarter final matchups decided, the final match-up of the round robin would decide who would go on to face the UNB Lancers in the knockout stage. The Windsor Lancers brought what the OUA had to offer, and Budo, coming from Japan for the tournament, brought a very different style of volleyball. It would turn out to make for a tense match over, as the teams battled for the final spot.
The differences in styles were immediately apparent once gameplay started. Budo kept the ball off the ground with much more determination. Combined with a more conservative attacking game, based around keeping the ball in the court, and the rallies could go much longer than a typical OUA exchange. The Japanese squad matched their determination for digging with enthusiasm in every aspect of the game. Their celebration after winning points resembled an orchestrated jogging pattern of high fives. They routinely screamed phrases on substitutions. They even had two team managers that followed their players around to towel down the court each time a player dove. Which was often.
Windsor came out with harder hitting, winning points by going right through Budo blocks, and taking tools where they could. Budo used roll and tip shots consistently to try to evade blocks. When they did swing away, often the Lancers could make contact with the block. When the roll shots did find a path, the Lancers were able to keep energy high and dig. They lead consistently by two points until 16-14.
Budo made up for their aggression in hitting with heavily orchestrated plays. They often would stack three attackers all from power, or two from the off side. They consistently ran step sets for quick back set kills from their middle. A particularly well-run backcourt attack from 11 Daisuke Sato down the middle led to a three-point rally and a 19-18 advantage for Budo. Windsor struck back with a hard kill, and manage to keep a series of rolls and tips from getting past the block for a slight lead. Budo player #36 put together two consecutive hard kills to keep it competitive, but then missed his serve to give Windsor the 22-21 advantage.
Windsor 11 Harrison Oake put away a couple hard kills late to put the first set away, and Budo caught the antennae at the very end to give the Waterloo Lancers the first set win 25-22.
Budo start the set with an obscene quick down the middle, hit by the off side player after the middle faked to run to offside initially. Obviously an orchestrated play between sets, and executed perfectly.
With the tone set, these teams really started to open up and rally with energy. Windsor came back to even the game and take the lead 5-4 early. Budo seemed to be able to pick up anything that came back off a Windsor block. At times, it looked like they would intentionally roll a ball off the block to get a better attack on the second opportunity. Lancers 9 Jimmy El-Turk completely misses a quick set, followed by putting one clear out. His teammate 5 Kyle Williamson gets the ball back with a hard kill from power. Lancers' Oake gets in the action with a hard attack himself, but Budo libero 23 Taichiro Koga wouldn’t give any easy points, getting touches on even on the hardest attacks. Windsor’s ability to cover all Budo tips gave them the lead 16-13 going into a timeout.
The two teams came out of the timeout missing serves. First Budo, then Windsor, then Budo again. Lancers El-Turk woke both teams up by packing a Budo player with a block. He then put away a hard quick kill in the middle. Budo are able to get a point off his arms on the next play, but his enthusiasm is paying off. 6 Ryan Le from Windsor packs the Budo libero in the face with the next attack, but I would bet he’d be happy keeping the ball alive for the extra moment. El-Turk, tired after his aggressive play, misses his serve to tighten the game at 22-21.
From there, Windsor 13 Josh Edwards took over with a quick, attack off the Budo block, and another quick to get to set point. Windsor kept a Budo tip from hitting the floor, once again, and won the second set 25-22. Windsor up 2-0.
The third set begins with high energy from Budo in their traditional manner. A roll finally hits the floor, followed by two scrambling sets from libero Koga for an early lead. Budo would get points consistently off the Windsor block and out of bounds. Windsor responded with their setter tipping, and three more soft shots for points in a more conservative approach that we’d seen before as Budo got out to an early lead at 8-5. Windsor manage to pick up another tip attempt, and respond with a hard kill to tighten the game.
That’s when things changed. Budo gained some momentum with a hard kill, which was refreshing after so many roll shots. They follow it with more rolls, which go off the block for points, then a tip that falls, then another roll that falls. They end a long streak with a step to the offside from middle 12 Tatsuya Furuyama, and end up 16-8. From there the story became consistent. More tips fell on Windsor’s side than had in the first two sets. The lancers tried to come back with tips of their own, but their lower energy leads them to miss a backcourt attack to give Budo the third set 25-19. The third set gave a similar story, as Koga from Budo kept every ball alive that any player could be expected to, making him look like an early favourite for player of the tournament. The story of the third set was errors from a Windsor team that looked tired, unable to keep the pace of Budo’s scrambling game. Budo won the fourth set decisively 25-17 to force a fifth and deciding set.
This is exciting stuff, as these teams are clawing at the final spot in the next round. Le on Windsor ends a great opening rally with a terrible miss to give the team from Japan the early lead. The Windsor squad found their energy with everything on the line, and were able to put up multiple blocks per rally to take back points. They weren’t discouraged by more and more digs from the opposing libero, and responded with a hard quick kill for a 4-3 lead. The rallies are fast paced, and only hard kills are winning points at this stage. Windsor is beginning to pick up as many touches off their block as Budo. A missed serve from the Japanese squad puts the Lancers up 8-6 at the turn.
The lead was never more than two, with both teams getting side outs consistently. Budo took some momentum back with two solid serves that Windsor had issues with. They followed it with a nice roll down the line for 11, and a tool off the block for a 12-11 lead. Windsor respond with a huge quick from Edwards, as the game looked to go to extra points in the final set. Williamson manages to put away a kill for Windsor, but the Budo libero almost looked to get the ball up again. Windsor give away a key point with a missed serve, and the game is tied at 14-14.
At this point, the libero for Budo took over. Great digs kept the ball alive, but a controversial touch call on a block goes against the Japanese team to fire them up. More nice digging leads to a slight lead at 16-15 for match point, but Windsor keep tight with a kill from the right side. A roll shot gives Budo another match point, and Koga keeps another rally alive with multiple digs before his squad eventually mishits an attack to even the game again.
Then a close call, claiming the Windsor squad did not touch an attack with their block, went against Budo. The team was fired up from the previous call, and the libero, with adrenaline racing after so many digs, earned himself a yellow card for calling for the touch. Windsor, ahead 18-17, come out of the call with a HUGE roof. And that’s it. Windsor won the fifth set 19-17, for a deflating end to an amazing game.
Windsor go on to play the UNB Varsity Reds in the quarter finals. Budo meet Ryerson in the consolation bracket.