.500 start for men’s volleyball

After a 3-3 start to the season, the Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks men’s volleyball team is still looking to hit their stride.

Opening their season with four straight road games, the Hawks started the 2010-11 campaign with a pair of wins, beating York and Ryerson. However, they followed that up with two consecutive losses to McMaster and Guelph.

This past weekend, the Hawks returned to the Laurier Athletic Complex where they split their matches, beating the Royal Military College (RMC) Paladins on Saturday and falling to the Queen’s Gaels on Sunday.

“We’ve been extremely good at times but we’ve also been extremely average,” said head coach Shayne White of the Hawks’ start. “When a few things start to go wrong I think we just start to panic a little bit. I’m hoping that as the season progresses, they’ll develop that feeling of trust and confidence so we won’t panic when we get into those tough situations.”

That inconsistency was a problem that plagued a young Hawks team last year, culminating in a disappointing 9-11 record, leaving them just short of the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) playoffs.

This season, the purple and gold once again feature a large number of rookies, with six of the 15 players on the roster being first-years; however according to White, the small group of experienced players have become solid leaders.

“The veterans have really taken care of the rookies and made the transition very easy for them,” he said. “[Fourth-years Erik Kroman and Cam Wheelan] have always been good leaders who lead by example, but this year we’ve really tried to spread out the leadership between those two and [fourth-years] Greg Houston and Dave Hamilton.”

According to White, that veteran presence has sped up the maturation process for the Hawks’ rookies.

“I think [the first-years] have come along pretty well,” he said. “We’ve had some really good contributions already, a couple will start and a couple will play some significant time but they’re all going to be very good players. It’s a really promising group.”

During the off-season, the Hawks were dealt a pair of significant blows in losing two starters from last year’s team. Second-year John Wilson was unable to play this season due to co-op, while former OUA rookie of the year Sam Schachter had to leave the team in order to play with Canada’s national beach volleyball program.

“Those are two starters and two very big losses,” said White. “Losing a 6’6 off side and a 6’7 middle really makes things difficult but some other guys are really stepping up and getting used to being leaders.”

No matter how young they are, or whom they have lost, White has high hopes for his team this year.

“If we can achieve consistency, I think that we can finish top three or top four,” he said. “Our goal is not just to make playoffs, our goal is to get home court advantage and get to the final four.”