In a battle for a playoff spot, every game counts for women’s volleyball right now.
A four-set victory over the Nipissing Lakers (4-8) on Saturday meant the Gaels (9-4) kept pace with the three teams ahead of them in the OUA East, but a Sunday loss to the fifth-place York Lions (7-5) made their hold on the division’s final playoff spot a little more tenuous.
“There are probably the top five teams that are in the hunt, so York is just out of that fourth place playoff position,” said Gaels head coach Michael Ling.
“To be honest, we need to be way better,” he added. “Because we haven’t reached our potential yet. We’re good, but we’re not that good. I need to keep pushing them to make sure we’re paying attention to detail and making good tactical decisions.”
The contest with the Lakers was the Gaels’ first regular season matchup since the teams met on Nov. 30. Queen’s got right back into the swing of things, using a powerful offensive game and strong defensive play to take the first two sets by large margins: 25-13 and 25-15.
Nipissing stormed back to take the third set 25-23, but Queen’s closed out the match with another dominant performance, winning the final frame 25-14.
“It was a good solid performance all around,” Ling said. “We controlled them from the very beginning with our service game — we served them tough.”
Brett Hagarty led the way with 16 kills and no errors. Defensively, Queen’s combined for 88 digs during the match, their highest total of the campaign.
In contrast to their dominance against the Lakers, the Gaels were sluggish at the start of their match with York, dropping the first two sets 25-20 and 25-16.
Queen’s rallied back in the next two frames — winning by identical scores to the first and second sets — to tie the match.
Ling said he told his team after the first two sets, “We’re going to five. Win or lose, we’re going to five.”
The Gaels fell apart after battling to get into the fifth set, making several errors to hand York the victory, with a 15-11 final frame.
“We basically gave away eight points. Five service errors, a ball-handling error, I think two attack errors. So that’s eight points just given to York,” Ling said. “But the glaring part is the five service errors. Five service errors in a 15-point set is unacceptable.”
Ling said the team needs to focus on minimizing their mistakes heading forward. They’ll have chance to do so this Friday when they face their cross-town rivals, the RMC Paladins (2-11).
The Gaels swept the Paladins the last time they met, but Ling said RMC is improving and shouldn’t be taken lightly.
“We can’t take a team that’s lower in the standings with their record for granted,” he said. “They’re a bunch of fighters over there. They have that military mindset where they never give up.”
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