Seeking a secure spot

Gaels clash with Gee-Gees tomorrow before final weekend

Niki Slikboer and the Gaels’ front line must be at their best against the Ottawa Gee-Gees’ aggressive blocking.
Niki Slikboer and the Gaels’ front line must be at their best against the Ottawa Gee-Gees’ aggressive blocking.

Women’s volleyball will be looking to lock down a playoff spot when they take the court Saturday.

The Gaels (11-5) hold a two-win advantage over the York Lions (9-6) for the fourth and final playoff spot in the OUA East. They’ll take on the second-place Ottawa Gee-Gees (12-3) on the road in their sole match of the weekend.

With three games remaining in the regular season, Queen’s final position in the standings is still up in the air.

“We could go as high as second in our conference or as low as not in the playoffs so it’s pretty up in the air,” said third-year outside hitter Shannon Neville, adding that the team isn’t worried by the potential flux.

If the Gaels are to improve in the standings, they’ll need to avenge an early-season loss to the Gee-Gees.

Ottawa came away with a sweep when the teams met on Nov. 9 in Queen’s sixth game of the year.

Neville said the team has made marked improvements since then.

“Now, we flow more together and know each other’s tendencies more,” she said. “I think we have improved a lot since then, so we’re excited to actually give them more of a run for their money.”

Setter Gabrielle Down suffered a concussion just days before the season got underway, which meant first-year walk-on Danielle Blumentrath was leaned on in the first Ottawa game.

“She did a great job, but she didn’t have as much experience so we all had to adjust to that,” Neville said.

To come out on top over Ottawa, the Gaels will have to make several adjustments to their game plan.

“They’re a really physical team, really big at the net,” Neville said. “We’ve been watching a lot of game tape and I think we know their tendencies more now so we’ll definitely be able to pick up more balls.”

The Gee-Gees run a fast offence and utilize an aggressive blocking style.

As opposed to steering the ball away from the defenders, the Gaels will attempt to guide it off the defenders and out of bounds.

Neville pointed to Ottawa’s strong serving as something the team will need to be prepared for.

“They always come at us with their serves, so that gets us out of system,” she said. “The same thing always happens at the beginning — they start serving at us hard and we aren’t passing that well or we’re hitting into their block a lot. By the end of the game, it always gets way better, but it’s a little bit too late.”

Neville said she thinks the team is gelling well going into the final two weeks of the season.

“Our blocking has definitely gotten better and we’re more consistent.”

After dropping games to York and the Toronto Varsity Blues (15-0) over the last two weekends, the women rampaged through the Ryerson Rams (11-4) in three quick sets on Sunday.

Neville said the Ryerson match might have been their best performance of the year.

“That was a big confidence boost,” she said, “so now, we’re just really excited to go into the last three games and secure that playoff spot.”


Gaels, Neville, Ottawa, Women's Volleyball

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