Men’s volleyball brings home silver

Men’s volleyball fought their way to a silver medal at the Queen’s Invitational tournament.
Men’s volleyball fought their way to a silver medal at the Queen’s Invitational tournament.
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The men’s volleyball team ended their pre-season with an impressive silver medal-winning performance at the Queen’s Invitational this past weekend.

“Our first goal was to be in [the] final, and we felt we could be a contender to win it,” said head coach Brenda Willis. “It was very much about taking care of our side of the court, and keeping unforced errors low. We’ve been doing good things but didn’t want to give too many points to the other team through unforced errors.”

Playing against university squads from Windsor, New Brunswick, McMaster and Western, the men faced stiff competition over the course of the three-day tournament. On Friday, the team had a solid opener, dispatching McMaster 3-1 (20-25, 25-19, 25-23, 35-33). In the evening game, a perennially strong Western team had the edge in a tough battle, beating Queen’s 3-1 (25-20, 25-16, 22-25, 25-19). “The round robin match we lost against Western came down to unforced errors,” said Willis. “But last year Western was second in the OUA, so we’re right up there with them.”

Saturday saw the team go a perfect 2-0 against Windsor and New Brunswick in two more hard-fought games. “We had to step up against UNB in the last round robin game to make the final. They were playing to their highest intensity, because ultimately they had to beat us to play Sunday and we needed to win to get into the finals,” Willis explained. “They beat us for bronze last year in our own tournament, so it was kind of nice to send them home early this year.”

The win against UNB brought the team’s round robin record to 3-1 and was good enough to earn a place in the finals on Sunday against McMaster, who had also accumulated a 3-1 record.

The final was an even match-up against McMaster, a team Queen’s has faced four times this year, with each side winning two games. Although the Gaels had beaten them in the tournament round robin, the Marauders proved to have the upper hand this time, winning the closely contested match 3-1 (25-22, 25-20, 19-25, 25-23). “The biggest issue was we became predictable,” Willis said. “McMaster got more blocks against us. We’ve been adding some things to our offence this week to give our setter more options so we don’t become as predictable.”

Despite the loss, Willis said she was thoroughly impressed with the team’s play in the tournament.

“Our service reception was very good this weekend—better than it’s ever been,” she said. “Our middle offence, running quicker sets, has really improved dramatically in [the] past two weeks as well.”

Two members of the Queen’s team were also named to the tournament all-star team for their exceptional play: third-year outside Daniel McCrae and second-year middle Adam Simac. For McCrae, it was also the second tournament in a row to be named to the all-star team. Rookie Stu Hamilton also proved his worth with his stellar play in all of the tournament games.

In the three tournaments attended this year, the team has now earned two bronze medals and a silver, making for a promising start to the season.

“This year our goal is to finish in the top four in the OUA,” Willis said. “The core of the team is now a year older and a year wiser. We also got Adam Simac back this year, which really adds a tremendous threat in the middle.”

The regular season starts on Saturday at 5 p.m. at RMC.

On Oct. 28 and 29, Queen’s will have its first home games against U of T and Ryerson at 8 p.m. and 9 p.m. respectively.

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