Gaels dismantle Rams

Men’s volleyball sweeps visiting Ryerson

Image by: Jack Rabb
The Gaels' defence smothered a potent Ryerson attack.

Riding a six-game win streak, the Queen’s men’s volleyball team was on fire in a three-set sweep of the OUA East’s third seed, Ryerson.

Queen’s has now won five straight against the Rams.

Even before the game had started, it seemed as if each set would be a battle, which may be in part to facing Rams’ outside hitter Xander Kertzynski, who leads the country in kills per set.

Head Coach Gabriel DeGroot did his research, however, and it was clear he had a strategy for facing a player of Kertzynski’s calibre.

In a post-game interview with The Journal, Coach DeGroot explained Queen’s approach: “With a team like us, we neutralize [an explosive offence] by coming at it with a lot more zones of pressure, whereas they’re coming at us with one-zone pressure.”

“We’re able to focus in on shutting him down, and they have to focus on the team, and we come out on top in that battle.”

DeGroot’s strategy quickly came to fruition—the Gaels played to their strengths with resilient team play in the first set, while Ryerson was forced to scramble and find other points of attack on offence.

Reliable team chemistry, as well as determination and grit, led Queen’s to a hard-fought 25-21 set win. A point that epitomized Queen’s play was when a long rally ended with a beautiful set by Zane Grossinger and an electric spike by Zac Hutcheson that won Queen’s a crucial point.

The momentum stayed with the Gaels into the second set. They stuck to their plan and played every point like it was their last, even if it meant laying out into the barrier outlining the court, like libero Lukas Kaufman did to propel them to win the point, and getting the crowd on their feet in the process.

With the Ryerson team struggling to string any rally going, the Queen’s team tightened their stranglehold on the game, winning the set 25-20.

Finally, in the third set, with Ryerson’s back against the wall and the Queen’s team smelling blood, they put the game to rest. It was the closest set of the whole match, 25-22, but spectators could sense the Gaels wanted the game more.

Limited errors, especially on the serving side for Queen’s during this set, was a deciding factor in the win.

Coach DeGroot had several takeaways from the match. “I thought we did a great job of executing our defensive game plan, they have got a lot of offensive weapons.”

“We definitely neutralized those weapons from our tough serving, but when we came to our block and our defence, we executed, and scored a lot of points on our transition offence.”

The next night, the Gaels lost to the University of Toronto (10-1) 3-1, including a marathon third set that ended in Toronto’s favour, 34-32.

Queen’s is now second place in the OUA East, behind Toronto and ahead of Ryerson. With only five games left in the season, the men’s volleyball team is a virtual lock to make the playoffs—the question now is whether they can secure home-court advantage for the post-season.

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