Falling short, but big things in store for Seneca Sting men’s volleyball

by Ankit Banerjee

With a winning record overall and multiple players making it to OCAA All-Star teams, the Seneca Sting men’s volleyball team had an impressive season. The men’s team made it past the first round of the playoffs before losing to the top-ranked Humber College in the quarter-finals.

Head coach Brian Singh (courtesy: Seneca Sting)

The Sting men’s volleyball team ended the shortened regular season with a 6-2 winning record. The team contended for the top seed throughout the season. Still, a stumble towards the end against Georgian College and a hard-fought five-set loss to Algonquin College earlier in the season resulted in a fourth seed as the team entered the playoffs.

“And then we had to play against the number one team in the country in the quarter-final game, and that really hurt us,” says head coach Brian Singh. “If we had taken care of business in the regular season, we wouldn’t have been in this situation.”

Daniel Kwan, a second-year Computer Programming and Analysis student at Seneca and a key player for the volleyball team, echoes that sentiment, saying, “we were hoping to finish at least top four, and hopefully, a finals berth.”

How young the team is also played a part. With eight rookies in the 12-member squad, a shortened season, and limited access to the court during the pandemic, there was plenty to do in a short time. Singh says, “This is how Seneca plays volleyball, and everyone has to learn that. And once they learned that, then we can kind of move on to more tactical things.”

Courtesy: Seneca Sting

The rookies on the team might have had a long journey, but they certainly didn’t fail to impress. Daniel Kwan made an impact with a team-leading 13 service aces and 45 kills, while Nathaniel Ling showed how it’s done on both offence and defence with 74 kills and 43 digs. Ling attributes his success to his team, saying, “I did find myself improving as the season went on. And a lot of it had to do with my teammates.”

Both Kwan and Ling, along with Peter Ostranski-Ayles (69 kills, 26 digs, four service aces), were named to the OCAA All-Rookie Team. Ostranski-Ayles also joined Richard Housen Jr (30 kills) and Abel Shen (49 digs) on the OCAA East Division Second-Team All-Stars.

Experience brings maturity, and now that the team has a year under its belt, there’s plenty to look forward to. Singh says, “with the first season as a rookie team, everything you do is your first. This is my first road trip. This is my first game against this team. This is my first playoff. Everything is your first. In the second season, you now have experience under your belt. And every time you go into a game, road trip or playoff match, you’ve been there before. And that has a ton of value because your game will be transformed at a high clip.”

Courtesy: Seneca Sting

Singh also says that the Sting’s off-season recruitment drive is going well, with three recruits and two more potentials. “One player in particular,” Singh says, “will probably be an all-star in this league.”

The Seneca Sting men’s volleyball team last received a medal in the OCAA tournament (silver) 13 years ago and won gold in 1995. Anything can happen in sport, of course. But with impactful players already on the team and more joining for the upcoming season, the coaches and players are optimistic about how the 2022-23 season will go. Kwan says, “next year, (we are) definitely hoping to finish higher in playoffs, if not win at all.”

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