Cassie Dresch

Outside hitter Phil Yeldon braces for the ball as the Thunder look to set up a play. Yeldon went down with a shoulder injury in the fourth set but came back in time for Algonquin to beat Loyalist 3-2 in five sets.

On a day that could have seen the game go either way, the Algonquin Thunder men’s volleyball team dug deep for the come-from-behind victory in the final set to clinch their first win at home.

The nail-biter of a game saw the men defeat the Loyalist Lancers 3-2 and was the second match of the Thunder home opening weekend.

“It was a great win, a great way to end the weekend after yesterday’s [Nov. 16] frustrating loss,” said outside hitter Phil Yeldon.

As with the game the day before against the Durham Lords, the Thunder and Lancers traded sets with Algonquin finally coming out on top.

The first set was a dominating one by the Thunder and established an early presence for them. A few good tips and three great blocks helped lead the men to a 25-14 romping of the Lancers early on.

Algonquin couldn’t keep up the pressure and had a slow start in the second set. They made it a close game with solid serving and timely blocks but it was not enough as the Lancers grabbed a 25-22 second-set win.

Coming back into the third set, the Thunder regained confidence. Despite letting Loyalist back into the game off a few mistakes, Algonquin ended strong with co-captain and outside hitter Alex Oneid finishing a strong kill giving them the match with a score of 25-19.

The fourth set saw a lot of action that hurt the Thunder more than it helped, seeing them lose 25-18. Early on in the set, Yeldon went down with a shoulder injury.

“I dove and I fell awkwardly,” Yeldon said. “I strained [my shoulder] a bit. Luckily the physio was able to massage it so I was good to go for the rest [of the game].”

It was also halfway through the fourth set when Oneid received a yellow card from the referee after asking for
clarification on a couple of calls.

“We thought he was making some bad calls with the hands and not giving us a chance to play fairly,” said co-captain Ian McAlpine. “We argued our case but unfortunately he gave us a yellow card. You can’t really let the ref play into the game though.”

They didn’t.

After going down early in the fifth and final set, the Thunder stormed back from a huge deficit on strong serves from McAlpine and setter Mozafar Abdoli. The late surge was too much for the Lancers to handle and the Thunder claimed the fifth set and the match with a 15-12 score.

“A win is always good,” said head coach Jay Mooney. “Winning is better than losing.”

“It was almost looking like a repeat of last night for a bit,” McAlpine said. “We went down by a bunch in the fifth. I think it really showed the character of our team coming back, especially in the way we did.”

Yeldon says the results of the weekend could have been better, but the turnout by the home crowd couldn’t have been better.

“It was amazing as a home opener,” he said. “The crowd was awesome. Hopefully we can get the stands filled every weekend.”