After a shaky start, the Queen’s Men’s Volleyball team rallied to beat the Nipissing Lakers 3-1 in the second round of the OUA Playoffs on Saturday.
With the victory, the Gaels are now 11-1 for the season and advance to OUA the semi-finals on Wednesday, where they’ll face the University of Toronto Varsity Blues on the road.
“[It] definitely wasn’t how we drew it up, and I think what made tonight special was that we had guys off the bench contribute and step up in a big way for us.” Head Coach, Gabriel deGroot, said about the game in an interview with The Journal.
After dropping the first set 21-25 and going down 16-8 in the second, the Gaels were in serious trouble. Despite the odds, however, Queen’s came back to win the second set 25-22 and carried the same momentum throughout the following two frames — 25-20, 25-16 — to secure the win.
Touching on their second-set comeback, DeGroot said that was something seldom seen in the sport.
“[It’s] unheard of in men’s volleyball,” he said.
“To come back from an eight-point deficit […] to go on that kind of swing in men’s volleyball is extremely rare.”
deGroot also emphasized the role the bench played in shaking Nipissing’s confidence.
“Everything that they would have gained planned for us was pretty much thrown out the window, because we went in with an entirely different lineup halfway through the second set.”
Substitutes Derek Chiang, Benjamin Moffat, and Shane Gabel led the charge, establishing a serve and block game the Gaels desperately needed. Chiang finished with a game high 5 blocks and Moffat led the team with 16 assists and 8 digs.
“We started putting our servers in and just letting them almost make the errors or come into our block. So that was the turning point for us from a playing standpoint,” deGroot said.
Having gone 10-1 in the regular season, the Gaels haven’t faced much adversity this year, and deGroot hopes to use their game against Nipissing as a learning experience.
“I think this will help us just from a preparation standpoint […] Now we’re in a position where we win, we go on to a championship game, and if we were to lose, we’d probably host a bronze medal match for a chance to go to Nationals,” he said.
“Either way, there’s a lot of confidence to go into that next match.”
Tied at 1-1 this season, the Gaels hold a historical advantage over the Varsity Blues —boasting a 21-5 overall record against them — as they head into their matchup on Apr. 16. The match will start at 8 p.m. in Toronto
Men's Volleyball, Nipissing, OUA playoffs, playoffs
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