Silver for volleyball

Gaels fall to Ryerson in Queen’s Invitational final

Women’s volleyball has displayed no lack of hustle thus far this year.
Women’s volleyball has displayed no lack of hustle thus far this year.
Amanda Digel spikes the ball in a game last fall.
Amanda Digel spikes the ball in a game last fall.

The women’s volleyball team kicked off the second half of their season in style with a silver-medal showing at the Queen’s Women’s Invitational Tournament last week.

Ryerson, St. Francis Xavier, and Sherbrooke College all traveled to Kingston to compete.

The Golden Gaels’ first match-up came against the second-seeded Sherbrooke College Volontaires, taking down the defending champions in four sets.

“They made just a lot of mistakes,” Queen’s head coach Chris Galbraith said of the opposing team. “We kept our errors down.”

The young Sherbrooke team posed little threat to the Gaels and the women won with minimal incident for a final score of 25-17, 27-29, 25-20, 25-22.

The second match against the St. Francis Xavier X-Women forced the Gaels to make some changes. A few shuffles in the lineup and some strong passing helped Queen’s master the big-serving St. FX squad and they pulled out a five-set victory. The final score was 17-25, 17-25, 25-17, 25-20, 15-10.

“[The win] really put us in the driver’s seat,” Galbraith said.

Heading into their third match of the tournament, the Gaels needed only to take a set from the Ryerson Rams to earn a spot in the gold-medal match.

The first two sets went smoothly, never seeing the Gaels in any real danger.

“It never felt like we were in jeopardy,” Galbraith said.

The team used the opportunity to give every player time on the court, and despite dropping the third and fourth sets, the Gaels came back to take the match 25-22, 25-24, 19-25, 16-25, 15-12.

The first set of the final match, again against Ryerson, was very close. A critical junction came at 26-26 and the Gaels were unable to follow though, giving up the set 27-29 to the Rams.

“It was an emotional letdown for us,” Galbraith said. “The final two sets didn’t go so smoothly for us.”

The toll the fight had taken on the women quickly became evident.

Drained of energy, the Gaels succumbed in straight sets for a final score of 29-27, 25-10, 25-15. But despite the disappointing final match, the team felt the tournament was an overall success.

Queen’s players Amanda Digel and team captain Elaine Lukowski were named tournament All-Stars. Digel, a left-side hitter, displayed her trademark consistency under the pressure of a new defensive strategy.

Middle hitter Lukowski, who spent the last several weeks recovering from a dislocated shoulder, was also an integral part of the team’s success. She had a strong serve, posting eight aces for the tournament.

“We didn’t really know what to expect,” Galbraith said of entering the tournament.

He said the Gaels looked for strong competition from three-time champions Sherbrooke College as well as Ryerson, who had beaten the Gaels earlier this season. The Gaels weren’t seeded in the top two going in and the women had little practice time before their first match.

Galbraith said the team was looking mainly to get itself back into game form. He said he was pleased with how well they played as a team.

“The silver medal was a bonus,” he said.

According to Galbraith, the team has a positive outlook on the second half of the season with matches against RMC and Lakehead this week. With only a day in between to prepare, the pressure will be on.

Lakehead ranks higher than the Gaels in the overall standings, but Galbraith said he believes his team has a realistic chance to win. He said the key will be to break through the Thunderwolves’ exceptional defence.

“Physically, they’re no match for us,” Galbraith said.

If they can add two wins to their record this weekend, the Gaels will be in a good position to chase a playoff spot. Galbraith said he is confident in his players’ abilities to do so.

“We are looking forward to a strong second half,” he said.

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