After an early exit from last year’s post-season, men’s volleyball enters the 2015-16 season with a bitter taste in their mouths.
The Gaels won both games against the York Lions during the regular season, and looked to be in good shape for the playoffs at 12-8.
Despite their strong showing, however, the Lions, who finished the regular season on a five-game winning streak, were able to take them out in the OUA quarterfinals.
Overall, many of the Queen’s players weren’t happy with the way the season ended.
“Last season was pretty disappointing, we had a very strong team but fell short,” Markus Trence said. But, the outside says the team remains confident going into this season with the veteran presence in the starting lineup.
“This year we are all a year older with more experience,” he said. “Over my four years here at Queen’s, the team this year is the closest it’s ever been, which is awesome for chemistry and team dynamic.”
“We as a team believe we can win an OUA title year.”
Trence himself looks to improve on a strong season in which he finished 12th in the OUA in total kills with 190.
Along with Markus Trence, several veterans return, including Mike Tomlinson — last season’s OUA First Team All-Star and Dale Iwanoczko Award Nominee from the OUA, which combines both academic and athletic excellence and OUA Libero of the Year winner Ivo Dramov.
One notable departure is Philippe Goyer, who was the Gaels second-leading hitter last season and a vital part of Queen’s attacking strategy.
The Gaels have tried to find a replacement for Goyer in outside hitter Marko Dakic, who previously played for the York Lions from 2011 all the way through last season. Dakic had a solid season last year, finishing tied for 21st in total kills in the OUA.
Queen’s will travel to Dakic’s former home on Nov. 7 for a game against the Lions. It’s a match he’s looking forward to.
“It’ll be nice to play my former teammates in a gym that used to be a home to me,” he said. “In a sense, it’ll feel just like practice and will also be slightly nostalgic. Nonetheless, the York match carries a lot of personal importance for me. Winning it will be a great feeling.”
Despite just joining the team, Dakic echoed the Trence’s sentiments about team chemistry.
“The guys are also a great and really tight group, and it caught me by surprise as to how quickly I became part of their family,” he said. “It’s been a welcoming and supportive environment, and it’s definitely making my transition really enjoyable.”
The Gaels will have some tough opponents in the upcoming OUA season, including the McMaster Marauders, who are ranked first nationally.
Queen’s was able to get a preview of a few of their opponents in the Ryerson National Bank Invitational, where they faced York, Ryerson and Western. The Gaels beat all three teams before dropping their final match to Western.
Queen’s has also faced off against OUA opponent Guelph in the preseason in their home invitational tournament and defeated the Gryphons three sets to one.
The Gaels open their OUA season on the road against RMC this Saturday before hosting the Ryerson Rams in their home opener on Oct. 30. RMC meanwhile finished last season in last place in the OUA. Queen’s has already faced and defeated the Rams at Ryerson’s home tournament in four sets.
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