In a match two years in the making, the men’s volleyball team finally knocked off their playoff rivals.
Queen’s defeated the York Lions in straight sets in front of a packed house at the ARC on Saturday afternoon.
The Lions had eliminated the Gaels from the playoffs in the past two seasons. This gave an extra bit of motivation to the departing seniors, including Marko Dakic, who was playing against his former team.
“It did mean a lot to me that it was York that we beat in playoffs,” Dakic said. He’s in his first year of law school at Queen’s having done his undergraduate degree at York.
“It also meant a lot to everyone else … [after] the last two York-Queen’s matchups, [where] it was York that came out on top.”
It was a different story on Saturday afternoon, as the Gaels maintained control throughout the entire match and outplayed the Lions in each set.
From the opening point, Queen’s jumped on York and quickly established a 9-3 lead in the set. The Lions started to claw back into the set and were able to bring it within two, but the Gaels prevented a long streak of points. They took a 16-11 lead into the technical timeout before eventually winning the set 25-20.
The second set was more hotly contested, with the Lions the first to gain momentum and lead the Gaels early on 9-6. Queen’s wouldn’t be denied, however. After they regained the lead, they put together four straight points coming out of the technical timeout to bring the score to 20-14 for the Gaels. They went on to win the second set by an identical 25-20 score.
Throughout most of the final set, it was clear that there would be no comeback for the Lions. Queen’s opened the set strong, taking a quick 6-2 lead and built on it going into the technical timeout, leading York 16-8. The Lions were able to string a five-point run together to bring the score to 21-16, but the Gaels controlled the set throughout and finished the sweep with a 25-18 victory.
As the final points of the game were played out, the packed crowd in the ARC grew louder and louder as the team sealed their ticket to the OUA Final Four.
“[The noise] was a little crazy for the quarterfinal, but we all loved it and it did encourage us to keep playing well,” Dakic said.
While the Gaels had a strong game, there were still weak spots the team knows they’ll need to address to move on to nationals. Serving was one sore area for Queen’s, as the team tallied 12 service errors in the game.
“For the next few games it will be really important that we serve consistently and tough in order to take the other team out of their offence,” said Scott Brunet, who is second on the team with 18 service aces this season.
The next step in the Gaels’ season takes places this weekend at the OUA Final Four in Hamilton, with their first game Thursday against the Ryerson Rams. Queen’s played Ryerson twice during the regular season, with Rams handing the Gaels two of the five losses they amassed all season. Ryerson finished only one game behind Queen’s in the regular season standings, and will prove to be another tough test on the road to nationals.
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