The Durham Lords men’s volleyball team has undergone a lot of changes this season, with eight news players and only three returnees in the lineup.
But the changes made by second year coach Mike Hubicki are working out – perfectly – at least so far.
The team is currently holding a 10-0 record in the Ontario Colleges Athletic Association with eight games to go and are the fifth-ranked team in Canada. The Lords have won four games at home and six on the road.
“Getting off to a 10-0 start in league play has been reflective on how we’ve worked in practice. When we get into the gym we train hard and look to set a game plan that is going to benefit us as we take on our opponents,” says captain Tyler Krabi.
A season ago the team struggled mightily, winning only two games and losing 17.
“Coming off a year where the team only saw two wins and a coaching change, there was no real idea where the direction of the team was going to go,” says Krabi.
Hubicki, who took the head coaching job after George Matsusaki departed before the start of last season, had to revamp the roster, as eleven players from last year’s team moved on.
“I think I affected the team from the beginning as I worked a lot with the coaching staff to bring in a lot of players that fit the style of play we wanted to play with. From there it was really about bringing our group together and finding our identity as a team,” says Hubicki.
Hubicki says the eight new players built good chemistry with the three returning players early on.
“They’ve been a huge part of our success, they’re communicating, asking questions to the returning players,” he says.
Although the team has yet to lose a game in the OCAA regular season, it suffered three losses out of four game at the Niagara College Knights Invitational Jan. 4-5.
“Playing in the Niagara tournament it was evident that there was a little bit of rust that we had to shake off after having several weeks off for the first semester exams and the holiday break,” says Krabi.
He mentions the Lords weren’t mentally prepared in the games they played but found themselves in a much better spot as the weekend wore on.
“In the end we earned a silver medal at the tournament,” he says.
The team then focused on its first game of the new year and decade, beating the Seneca Sting in three straight sets Jan. 10.
“Getting the win against Seneca was a really good way to open the year 2020. That game gave us a lot of opportunity to get a couple rookies into the mix and we got treated as they really stepped up and led the way in that win,” Krabi says.
In eight of Durham’s 10 wins the team won three straight sets, Hubicki says, adding it’s due to them trusting each other and working hard on their offence during practice.
“It’s amazing to just see how organized they are on offence, you hear their voices. They’re moving around, everyone knows their role and it makes it easier for them to be able to win all sets,” says Hubicki.
Krabi appreciates what the coaches have done in order for the Lords to be successful.
“As it is evident with our current record, there would be no slacking under the new coaching direction. They have also managed to keep us excited and motivated as we chase down success at the end of the season,” he says.
The Lords, who are currently first in the OCAA standings, host the fourth place George Brown Huskies Wednesday (Jan. 15) at 8 p.m.
“I expect our game against George Brown to be a good battle. We lost a set to them in the first semester and they are a team that can get rolling. I hope that we are able to get a lot of fans out that night as there’s only five home games left in the season and the more support we can get the better,” says Krabi.