Men’s volleyball has seen ups and downs this season — and this past weekend was no different.
After winning two consecutive games to close the month of January, the Gaels now find themselves on a three-game losing streak, dropping back-to-back games over the weekend to the Brock Badgers and the nationally-ranked sixth McMaster Marauders.
Heading into the final stretch of their season, the Gaels have a 6-7 record and have dipped below .500 for the second time this year.
Despite not winning this weekend, head coach Brenda Willis remained positive. Subsequent to their 3-1 loss to McMaster, Willis told The Journal she was proud of her players considering their opponent’s level of play.
“I thought they came out today ready to play against one of the best teams in the league and in the country,” she said. “We forced [McMaster] to step up.”
After what Willis described as an “emotional” five set, 3-2 loss to the Badgers on Saturday, she praised the Gaels for showing “a lot of character” against McMaster the next day.
— Queen’s Gaels (@queensgaels) February 3, 2018
“The guys should be very proud of themselves after such an emotional loss [to Brock],” she said. “I don’t think the odds makers necessarily had us taking a set off [McMaster] or beating them, but credit to the [players].”
Although the game was very close against Brock, Willis was quick to say the loss “was totally our fault.”
“We made unforced errors in critical times that cost us the match, and so there’s learning to be done from that,” she said. Rather than stick with what was working, Willis said her team tried to do too much.
In their final two sets against the Badgers — both of which they lost — the Gaels suffered 11 errors and hit just .170 per cent. In comparison, Queen’s suffered a total of 10 errors and hit an average of .361 per cent in the match’s first three sets.
Willis said the Gaels’ loss on Sunday showed the considerable difference in the quality of the two teams. She noted her team’s passing efficiency broke down after their first-set win and credited McMaster’s serving ability as a contributing factor to the loss.
“For them to earn 12 points just off serving [aces] … It’s just too much.”
Despite this, Willis added there were positives her team could walk away with.
“We’re a young team compared to them,” Willis said. “But I think overall we competed really well. To hit .266 [per cent] against McMaster is a good match for us.”
With four games left to play, Queen’s sits at fourth in the OUA East — a place which Willis hopes to move out of. As per playoff rules, the fourth place team in the OUA East will face-off against the first placed team in the OUA West in the opening round. If the season were to end today, this means Queen’s would play against McMaster.
With this in mind, Willis said her team has two main priorities for the season’s final few weeks.
“The first goal is to make the playoffs; the second goal is to make playoffs above fourth place.”
The Gaels play host to RMC next weekend, who sit second last in the OUA East at 2-13.
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