Future bright for women’s volleyball

Young team hopes to join OUA’s best

Caroline Livingston (#11) and Franzi Wilhelm (#13) look to carry the team in the coming years.
Caroline Livingston (#11) and Franzi Wilhelm (#13) look to carry the team in the coming years.
Credit: 
Journal File Photo
For the second straight year, the women’s volleyball playoff run came to an abrupt end. Facing off the Ryerson Rams on Feb. 27, the Gaels dropped their first round game in straight sets. 
 
But even though the team didn’t go far in the playoffs, the team’s focus is not only on this year’s success, but the program’s promising future.
 
At the beginning of the year, Queen’s looked inexperienced. With 12 of their 16 players in first or second year, the team came out slow. The Gaels dropped their first three games of the year and went into the winter break at 5-5. 
 
When most coaches would panic, Michael Ling believed his team would move past their slow start.
 
“Whether you are winning or losing, the team you see in October is a different team than you’ll see in February and March,” Ling said. This was Ling’s second year as head coach. His team finished 12-7 in the regular season — the exact same record as the year before.
 
Knowing the team had some great athletes, Ling said the missing piece was consistency. 
 
After playing in a tournament over the winter break at Ryerson, Queen’s looked like a different team.
 
For the rest of the season, the women were in control. They strung together two four-game winning streaks, becoming one of the hottest teams in the OUA.
 
Down the stretch, veteran captains Shannon Neville and Becky Wilson led the team.
 
In her fourth year, Neville was a force for the Gaels offence, leading the OUA with 228 kills and finishing second with 3.35 kills per set. For her efforts throughout the year she was named as an OUA East First-Team All-Star.
 
Neville was awarded an OUA First-Team All Star.           (Journal File Photo)
 
As the team’s libero, Wilson was integral to the Gaels placing in the top five in most defensive categories. For the first time in her career Wilson was presented with an OUA Second-Team All-Star, coming second in the OUA with 286 digs.
 
But perhaps more notable than the team’s veteran play was the strong contingent of younger players who made their mark this season.
 
First-year Franzi Wilhelm was relied on heavily to start the team’s offence. The setter from Germany started nine games for Queen’s, averaging 8.5 assists per set.
 
In her second year as an outside hitter, Caroline Livingston was awarded with an OUA Second-Team All-Star, averaging 2.23 kills per set.
 
“She is really demanding of herself and holds herself to an incredibly high standard,” Ling said. “Those are huge leadership qualities, and I see huge things for her beyond her post-secondary career.”
 
For the graduating Wilson, the highs and lows of this year will be integral to the development of the younger Gaels. When asked what she hopes to leave to her teammates, Wilson focused on perseverance.
 
“It’s most important to keep our motto of never giving up,” Wilson said. “Whether it’s in practice, chasing down a ball, or in a game where we are losing by a lot, I would just like to pass on my work ethic to the team.” 
 

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