Volleyball notches key wins

Defeats McMaster and Guelph for share of second place

Queen’s went the distance in both their games this week, winning in five sets.
Queen’s went the distance in both their games this week, winning in five sets.

Five must be a lucky number for the men’s volleyball team. Proving that they can go the distance, the team chalked up its third and fourth five-set wins of the season this week. Remaining undefeated in five-setters this season, the Gaels took on the McMaster Marauders and Guelph Gryphons and emerged victorious in both contests.

Back from a stint touring Europe for a series of exhibition games and coming off a fourth-place showing at the York Invitational Tournament, the Gaels met the second-ranked Marauders on home court Friday night. Taking advantage of the absence of star Marauder Peter Hrkal, the Gaels quickly took the lead. They took the set without much of a struggle but left their opponents hungry for a fight.

The second set began in similar fashion. However, a break in concentration at 23-19 lost the Gaels several set points and gave Mac the opening it needed to win the set. Not to be shaken, Queen’s came back for a 25-21 third set win, a credit to the quick thinking of setter Devon Miller and a well-executed offence.

Their efforts were matched once again by the visitors as McMaster fought back to take the fourth set 25-22.

The tie-break was a fierce battle, neither side willing to give in. Queen’s took the early lead, jumping out to 5-1, but it was McMaster who reached the eight-point mark first.

After the court change the Gaels trailed until 13-11 and the Marauders looked poised to take the match when an impressive one-on-one block by outside hitter Daniel McCrae recharged the Queen’s men. They came back to win the set at 15-13 and take the match. McCrae led the Gaels’ attack with 16 kills, while middle Adam Simac and outside Andrew Bridgeman had 12 kills each. McCrae also had two solo and five block assists, while Simac posted four solo and three assists.

With the win, the Gaels overtook McMaster in the OUA rankings, putting Queen’s in a tie with Ryerson for the number-one spot.

Without so much as a day to breathe, the men again took to the court in Bartlett Gym to face the Guelph Gryphons on Saturday.

The Gaels started off slowly, keeping their opponents on their toes but eventually giving up the first set. Getting back into their groove, the men picked up the pace and gave Guelph something to worry about. Once again, consistent setting and quick decision-making gave the Gaels the edge.

After a comfortable second set, the men carried their momentum into the third, winning it by a comfortable margin. They started strong in the fourth set and showed every sign of ending the match there. Several errors gave Guelph a small opening, however, and they exploited it, fighting back from 19-23 to take the set 28-26.

The fifth set was tight, but quick, the Gaels’ solid defence and strong offence giving them the tie-break for a final score of 22-25, 25-21, 25-18, 26-28, 15-12.

Queen’s player of the game, Bridgeman, led the offensive effort with 19 kills, followed by McCrae with 14 kills and outside hitter Luke Lichty with 13. McCrae also had two block solos while Miller and middle hitter Ryan McCracken had three assists apiece.

After the weekend’s wins, Ryerson moved back into sole possession with 22 points. McMaster topped RMC to move into a tie for second place in the division with Queen’s, both at 20 points. Western and U of T round out the top five with 18 and 16 points respectively.

The Gaels will now hit the road, matching up with the Laurier Golden Hawks Friday evening at 8 p.m. and the Waterloo Warriors at the same time the following evening.

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