Logan Mend and Spencer Kingzett are on the rise with the York University Lions volleyball team.
After a tough 0-2 start which included a coaching change, the Lions have rattled off five straight wins in the Ontario University Athletics Conference of U Sports, formerly known as Canadian Interuniversity Sport.
Mend, who played for the Pen High Lakers, is seventh in Canada in assists with 213, which ranks him fifth in the OUA.
“This is my best year of volleyball that I have played so far,” said Mend, in his third season with the Lions and his second as a starting setter.
When mentioning where he measures up to the other top players in Canada, the Naramata native said it’s not where he wants to be.
“My goal is top three in U Sports. I think that’s very realistic. The opening weekend was a little rough. That kind of put a damper on the stats,” he said with a laugh.
Mend pinpoints his improvement to maturity. After missing the cut for the junior national team, Mend spent his spring/summer playing beach volleyball every day. Along with getting stronger, he matured and became a better player. He’s much more confident. His Lions teammates have noticed it as well, telling him his sets have improved significantly. Mend takes his role as the starting setter seriously, calling it “my job.”
“I need to watch a lot of game tape. I need to know the other teams offence and defence,” said Mend. “I wouldn’t want to be in any other position.
“I’m quite enjoying being a leader on the court and driving our team towards victory,” he continued.
Mend said there is parity in the OUA with the top teams being the McMaster Marauders, who are 6-0, and the Nipissing Lakers at 5-1, the two teams the Lions lost to. Mend wants to see his team establish a dominance on the court.
“I want us to make nationals,” said Mend of the young squad.
Contributing to that success is Kingzett, a former Maggie Mustang, who Mend played against. Kingzett is in his second season. He has 77.5 points, ranks 10th in the conference in kills per set and 13th in total kills.
“It’s been pretty good so far. I’ve managed to hang on to my starting spot,” said Kingzett. “I’m really getting the feel for the York Lions volleyball team. The mentality and the type of play that we want. There’s no super stars. We all work together as a team.”
Kingzett feels the weight on his shoulders knowing he has to be a more offensive presence, while also picking up his passing and digging. Playing with and against the top players, Kingzett said the speed and physicality of the game is the difference from high school.
“It was definitely nice to have that second half, first year start, get a lot of playing time,” he said. “Get comfortable with the guys. I know how things work. The feel for the university game.”
In the summer, Kingzett focused on getting stronger and it has paid off with harder hits and jumping higher. His work has helped him adjust to the speed. Last season it took him the first half of the year to grasp the game.
Kingzett is curious to see how far the Lions can take their success. They want to continue their winning streak, and that involves hosting the Excalibur Classic, Jan. 5 to 8, which they won last year.
“It would be awesome to come first in the East Division, possibly contend for an OUA championship,” he said.