Tough battles on road

Both opponents taken to final set on away trip

The Gaels forced game five against both Nipissing and Laurentian, winning one of two matches.
The Gaels forced game five against both Nipissing and Laurentian, winning one of two matches.

After going down to the wire in their final set on Friday, the women’s volleyball team pulled through on Saturday on the road.

In their first match-up, the Gaels (3-4) headed down the 401 west to face the Windsor Lancers (2-3).

In a back and forth first two sets, the Gaels were outdone by the home Lancers, falling down 2-0 early.

For head coach Michael Ling, the problem was internal.

“It took us a while to get going in that match,” Ling said. “We were fighting ourselves a bit, but we showed some good resilience to fight.”

From there, the Gaels’ outlook would change completely. Led by Shannon Neville’s 19 kills and 17 digs, the Gaels won the next two sets 25-22 and 25-20.

Libero Becky Wilson was key to a strong defensive night, totaling 20 digs over the five games. 

In the fifth set, the Gaels would be in tough. Unfortunately, the momentum would shift against them, dropping the final set 15-13.

Ling believes the Lancers game was a great teaching point for his team. 

“We got a lot of learning out of that battle,” Ling said. “We now know we need to start off a little bit better in each match we play.”

The next night against Western (4-1), the Gaels had the opportunity to put that learning into action. 

Falling 2-0 early again, Ling knew his team would respond.

“I knew it was only a matter of time before we push through in that match,” Ling said. “It was a good showing on offence. We didn’t make as many mistakes and good serving put Western in trouble.” 

Led by Shannon Neville for the second consecutive night, the Gaels found their footing, evening up the match-up at 2-2.

Outside hitter Victoria Wensley racked up 16 kills and two aces, proving to be key to the Gaels 15-8 final set win.

For Ling, things were night and day from the previous match.

“It was a much better performance overall on Sunday.”

Having pushed their record back to 3-4 from 0-3, Ling believes the Gaels’ first three games against Ryerson, Ottawa, and Toronto helped to shape the team’s character and allowed them to bounce back.

“When you play the top three teams from last year to start the season, it’s always a tough test,” Ling said. “But I wouldn’t have wanted to start it any other way.  I don’t like the matches that are too easy, it gives a false sense of security. We need to be pushed to get better.”

Looking forward to the weekend, the Gaels only have one game against Guelph. Currently, the Gryphons sit at 3-3 and fourth in the OUA West.

Having a lone game will provide the Gaels with more time of preparation, but Ling knows his team will have a challenge ahead of them. 

“According to the records they are about the same as us, but I feel that they are a very skilled team,” Ling said. “They are going to be fighters, and we are going to have our hands full.”

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