The Gaels are flying high after a pair of straight-set wins in their final home games of the season.
Victories over the Ryerson Rams (12-4) and Toronto Varsity Blues (4-13) kept Queen’s (11-5) in fourth place in the OUA, just behind the Rams and the third-place Waterloo Warriors (12-5).
“We were firing really well,” said Gaels head coach Brenda Willis. “We had very few unforced errors.”
The Gaels brought their best game of the year in Sunday’s match with the Rams.
“I thought yesterday was one of the first games where we were just as crisp and just as intense in set three as we were in the previous sets,” Willis said.
The team has been caught giving up late-game points after going up two sets.
“We didn’t get comfortable, which has been a little bit of a concern,” Willis said. “That was really nice to see.”
The men played Ryerson earlier in the season — a Halloween day loss in straight sets.
“We had a lot to prove because we really underachieved when we went there,” she said. “We were pretty specific with our game plan going into the Ryerson game.”
The first set was neck-and-neck, and included several long scoring runs from both teams before Queen’s closed out the frame 25-23.
The second set was even tighter, with neither team able to establish more than a two-point lead at any point.
Queen’s also put that set away 25-23, showing poise in the final minutes.
Queen’s stayed ahead in the third set, winning 25-18 and clinching the match.
Queen’s middle blockers attacked well throughout the contest.
“[Setter] Jamie Wright really trusted his middles at the end of the sets which is something we’ve been trying to improve,” Willis said.
“We felt we were getting more and more predictable in matches, hitting more and more outside balls in the home stretch, so we’ve been working on really trying to keep our four-man offence active all the way through.”
Outside hitter Philippe Goyer had 11 kills and five digs, while Mike Tomlinson had 11 kills, 12 digs and three blocks. Libero Ivo Dramov added 11 digs of his own; the Gaels as a whole tallied 45 digs over the three sets.
Saturday’s game, a 3-0 walloping of the Varsity Blues, was more one-sided. The sets were 25-19, 25-17 and 25-13.
Outside hitter Aaron Nusbaum got the start for Queen’s and played confidently, attacking aggressively and getting up for blocks.
Queen’s led virtually the entire match, with scoring coming from starters and subs alike.
Nusbaum was the squad’s leading scorer with 10 kills and five digs. Three other Gaels added eight or more kills in the contest.
The Gaels’ four remaining matches all take place on the road, meaning they’ll have to win away from Kingston to maintain a playoff spot.
“We just need to keep getting better,” Willis said. “That’s the goal every practice, every week.”
The Gaels will face the Western Mustangs (8-8) and the Windsor Lancers (6-10) this weekend.
Back in late October, the Gaels hosted both these teams at the ARC during the season’s opening weekend. They lost to Windsor in five sets and were swept by the Mustangs.
“We’re looking for redemption on the road,” Willis said.
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