Women's volleyball swept from playoffs by Western

Hot streak ends for Gaels with 3-0 in quarterfinals 

Women's volleyball team lost to the Western Mustangs this weekend to end their OUA playoffs stint.
Women's volleyball team lost to the Western Mustangs this weekend to end their OUA playoffs stint.
Credit: 
Journal File Photo

The women’s volleyball team was on a hot streak coming into the OUA Playoffs, winning seven of their last 10, but a loss at Western over the weekend saw their season come to an end.

“Certainly I expected to win,” said head coach Michael Ling. “I never go into a match, and I know the team never goes into a match, expecting, ‘Oh, this is going to be a hard day … this is going to be a hard game’. We don’t go in with that mindset.”

Rankings don’t mean a thing, he said, and when it comes time for playoffs it’s a free-for-all. But their best wasn’t on display against Western, who swept Queen’s 3-0 in straight sets.

The Gaels have lost in the OUA quarter-finals for three consecutive years, but that’s the price to pay in trying to take the next leap forward – trial and error takes time, Ling said. And they’ll continue to stick to the script.

“You don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater from year to year. We are who we are, and this is the program and plan we have put forth – and, in some ways, the athletes have to find their game in [our] structure.”

Queen’s struggled against the Mustangs from the outset, dropping the first and second sets 25-15 each. Lacking offense, the Gaels suffered more errors than kills in both sets.

“We had a hard time finding ourselves [and] we made a lot of mistakes on many fronts. Attacking wise we were not very good; we had a hard time finding kills. It made it tough for us to find our rhythm,” Ling said.

Team captain and outside hitter, Caroline Livingston, who finished second in the OUA in kills per set at 3.82, clocked in a meager two kills in the opening pair of sets.

“She had a hard night,” Ling said of the third-year player. “It wasn’t her fault, it wasn’t our centre’s fault, and it wasn’t any individual passer’s fault — it’s all a team thing.”

“We all own [the loss] together.”

A late, strong push from the Gaels in the third set fell short, dropping the final game 25-20.

Even with yet another early exit from post-season play, the program remains on a steady, uphill trajectory. It’s about finding consistency, said Ling, and the Gaels have seemingly found it. The team has finished fourth or higher in their division five of the last six years.

“My philosophy won’t change,” Ling said of how he plans to approach next season, hoping to take the program a step ahead. “It’s all about having skillful players, physical players, players that are mentally tough, and players that have the attitude and effort that fit [our] culture.”

The ensuing months for the team will be focused on rest, recuperating and getting back to the court fit to work – and work hard. It’s a long road, Ling said, but the Gaels are ready for the challenge.

“My goal is to always win and compete for a national championship. We have a long ways to go, but we will keep working and getting better.” 

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