Going the distance

Gaels win marathon 80-point set

Despite losing to the Ryerson Rams and solidly defeating the University of Toronto, the highlight of the men’s volleyball team’s trip to Toronto may have been the fourth set of Saturday’s match.

“Well, it was a war,” head coach Brenda Willis said of the nearly 40-minute, 80-point fourth set.

The Gaels surrendered the first two sets of the match to the home team but refused to concede the victory so easily. They came back strong to take the third set, setting the stage for a marathon fourth set.

What ensued was a set that several spectators claimed was the most entertaining they’d ever seen.

Play went back and forth, with each team forcing the other to raise their level of play. Willis said every player was in top form and very few errors were made.

“Set point went back and forth maybe eight or nine times,” she said.

The score was 40-39 in favour of the Gaels when Ryan McCracken finally served out the set.

The fifth set started off quickly, seeing the Gaels up 8-5 at the court change. But the Rams would not relent, evening the score at 14-14. Queen’s sided out at 15-14 and Ryerson took the next three points to clinch the win 25-16, 17-25, 23-25, 41-39, 15-17.

Ryerson may have taken the match, but Queen’s did not let the loss bother them.

“We mourned that loss for about five minutes,” Willis said.

Even though the Gaels remain in second place behind Ryerson, Willis said this weekend has given the team a clear idea of what they can do, and that they know they have what it takes to bring home the banner.

“We’re convinced now that we are capable of winning the championships,” Willis said. “That’s our goal.” Outside hitter Dan McCrae led the attack with 17 kills and middle Adam Simac led the defence with three block solos and seven assists. Setter Devon Miller was named Queen’s player of the match, posting 60 assists over the five sets.

Willis said her biggest concern after such a taxing match was whether or not her team would have the energy to face U of T the following day.

The team was a little flat heading into the first set against the Varsity Blues and gave it up 22-25. They regained composure in the second, aided by several key change-ups.

Jeff DeMeza entered the game and proved to be a key component in the outcome of the match, leading the team in scoring with 14 kills. For his efforts he was named Queen’s player of the match.

Rookie Stuart Hamilton proved his mettle once again, acting as a stabilizing force for his team’s shaky passing.

“We’ve been improving every week, and it was very nice to see that come through for us,” Willis said.

She added that anyone who hadn’t watched the men progress from the first half of the season to the second wouldn’t know it was the same team.

Willis said she feels a great advantage for her squad is the nearly equal distribution of strength and skill over the whole team.

“We’re able to go to all five hitters relatively evenly to score,” she said.

She said that the team’s depth allows for Miller to get strategic and be creative.

“It’s really exciting for me to be able to work with such a deep squad,” she said.

The Gaels return home to Bartlett this weekend to face Windsor and Western. Willis said she is hoping for a large turnout for the two matches, noting the energy a large crowd can impart to the home team.

“The Queen’s community can help us win,” she said.

The men will play at 4 p.m. on both Saturday and Sunday.

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