Patrick Bilas, a fourth-year geography student here at UTM, is a great defensive asset for the UTM men’s D-league volleyball team. Bilas stands tall in the backcourt, and uses his body length and athleticism to keep his team alive in sets. Even though the men lost to the St. George Red 2-1 on Sunday, November 20, Bilas believes his team could beat them in a rematch.

Bilas, who has two attack kills and two blocks, has a good understanding of the game and sees the court through a coach’s lens. “We hustled hard towards the end after our rough start. We just need to go back to basics for our next game and look forward. It was great having our bench come out and win us a set at the end. We’re disappointed we didn’t play as good as we thought we could,” says Bilas.

“Our strategy is more left-side-middle, so I have to put in a defensive effort. I have to cover all the holes and work hard to ensure there are no open spots on my side. Then I try my best to block the spike,” says Bilas.

Even though the men have a losing record, they’ve had some bad luck losing close matches that could have easily gone in their favour instead. “We’re up there for sure, we’re at the calibre. We haven’t seen St. George Black, but we feel like we’re up there and we have a chance. We work hard, and we practice hard, we have a good coach, team, and lots of potential. Compared to past years, we’re doing well,” says Bilas.

Bilas takes pride in playing defence, because as seen in many professional leagues, championship teams win based off the strength of their defence. “We have to have good starts and stick to our game plan. We also have to execute and pass well, and just play good defence, because defence wins games,” says Bilas.

The second set of the match was filled with intense excitement as both teams went back and forth fighting for the winning point. UTSG Red was the more powerful team in the end, taking the set with a strong smash from starter Sitan Wong.

UTM’s player of the game surely went to number three, Sean Leschak Klugman, who tallied nine set assists, two service aces, and three blocks.

With more than half the season left and plenty of time to make up ground in the standings, the men focus on getting better each and every day. The team members’ greatest strength is that they don’t give up on one another, and push each other harder each and every practice, “because we want to succeed together,” says Bilas.

Come out and support the men next Sunday as they battle the UTSG Black in the RAWC at 1 p.m. The Eagles play their last game next weekend until students return from winter break, where action will pick back up January 15.