It was a meeting of two very different opponents, but they came out of it surprisingly equal. The York Lions women’s volleyball team dominated the OUA East throughout the regular season and finished with an 18-1 record. Queen’s battled to a 10-9 record and the fourth and final playoff spot, but two points was all that separated the teams on Saturday.
The Gaels started strong and gave the crowd at York’s Tait McKenzie Centre cause for concern with a 25-21 victory in the first set, but York rebounded to take the second set 26-24 and the third set 25-18. Queen’s refused to throw in the towel, though, and battled back to win the fourth set 25-20. In the decisive fifth set, it again looked like Queen’s was beaten when York raced out to a 14-6 lead, but the Gaels rattled off eight straight points to tie the score at 14 and then tied it again at 15. But the clock soon struck midnight on their unlikely run as the Lions took the next two points to clinch the victory.
Second-year outside hitter Elyssa Heller said the Gaels came away with a lot of pride, though.
“It was disappointing for sure to lose to York, but we played absolutely amazing,” she said. “Everybody did a really good job.” OUA East Rookie of the Year Thinesa Sriskandarajah shone for the Lions, recording 23 kills and 12 digs, and Candice Paulsen added 16 kills and three service aces. Second-year middle hitter Colleen Ogilvie led the way for Queen’s with 12 kills on 18 attempts and two stuff blocks, and rookie outside hitter Natalie Gray chipped in 17 digs and 12 kills. Ogilvie was named to the OUA East Second All-Star team Wednesday along with teammates Katie Matthews and Lorna Button. All three players are in their second year with Queen’s. The Gaels had only three players in their third year of eligibility this season and none in their fourth or fifth year. Heller, last year’s rookie of the year, said that young talent will be crucial moving forward.
“We have a lot to look forward to,” she said. “Every team in the OUA is looking out for us.”